On January 4, 2018, the Department of Interior announced the opening of 47 off-shore oil and mining leases on the US continental shelf. The same day, nearly all Republican and Democrat governors of coastal states had voiced their opposition. Interfaith Oceans, along with the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE), Creation Justice Ministries, and many others are supporting the governor's opposition for common faith, moral, and justice reasons. We are also opposing the opening up of our national marine protected areas, most particularly the new Northeast Seamounts and Canyons Marine National Monument.
We urge you and all people of faith to sign the NRPE petition or write directly to the Department of the Interior comment line. If you are a lay person, please urge your religious leader and others in your faith community to sign the petition or write a letter to protect God's oceans and coasts.
We have attached our open letter to President Trump and Interior Zinke below, which outlines our common principles of faith and reasons for opposition. Please share with others.
February 4, 2018
Dear President Trump and Interior Secretary Zinke,
We, as people of deep faith from many different religious backgrounds, are deeply grateful to our Creator for the gifts given to us in our ocean depths and beaches. We stand together to say that it would be wrong for our nation and our coastal states to open up our marine protected areas and to offer 47 leases for offshore oil and gas drilling and mining on our coasts’ continental shelf. That is why Republican and Democrat governors are united in their opposition. We ask you to maintain the marine protected areas and stop the opening of these new leases based on the following reasons of faith, morality, and the common good of the nation and the world.
Our coasts depend upon the industries of fishing, tourism, recreational fishing, scuba diving, marine wildlife watching, and more. No matter how strong the safety protocols are These operations will provide minimal jobs in comparison to the damage and the corporate profits will go to people outside of the communities. It is also
Oil and gas drilling and the safety regulations have been loosened, making it more likely of more deaths, such as those on the Deepwater Horizon.
Our coasts are already suffering from higher tides and storm surges with intensifying and expensive storms tied to the climate chaos being caused by fossil fuel pollution from extraction and emissions. We are raising the financial burden of the coastal communities, states, and nations in mitigation and disasters (2017 being the most expensive on record for disasters). Again, the poorest are harmed the most and have the least access to resources to relocate or rebuild.
Each oil and gas exploration effort with its blasting deafens, gives concussions, and kills marine wildlife because of the enormity of the sound levels and how sound travels underwater. There are already too many deaths, beachings, and harm done to whales, dolphins, and so many more species from undersea explosions.
Our actions in opening up these leases sends a message to the rest of the world that as a nation we are selfish, immoral, unjust, and naïve. We are saying that, despite all the ecological data that shows that fossil fuel pollution acidifies the oceans and is raising sea levels around the world, causing the coastal poor to become homeless refugees, we don’t care, and we will promote fossil fuel pollution and not care about the future or the poor around the world being harmed now. We will not care about our own children and grandchildren. We do not care about life or the unborn or those to come in future generations. We will not care about working with the rest of the world. We will not care about being an innovative and economic leader in the world; we will cling to the energy solutions of the past because it will give financial gain to the few and a short-term bit of energy, while the expanding field of solar, wind, thermal and other energies is expanding with leaps and bounds all over the world (and our nation).
There are other better paths clearly open to us that we are not taking many nations and cities are going carbon neutral because there are so many viable energy options. Within our nation, solar and wind alone are sweeping the states and corporations because they save money (ask Walmart!) So we would be saying with this action: .
Therefore, we stand together from many different faith traditions on common principles to ask you to step away from this path of opening up leases and develop a new energy future plan for energy independence, as other nations and cities are. They are finding that their economies are not suffering but new economic drivers are emerging to have them thrive.
We stand together on the following shared religious principles:
This planet was not initiated or created by us, and we are responsible to the Creator to care for the GIFTS that have been given for the good of all, not the few
That we are part of the community of the planet, able to use its abundance for our needs but that use comes with the responsibility to care for the abundance for the future, for our children and their children and all our brother and sister species,
That we are called to care for the poor and to remember them in all decisions, because “there but for the grace of God” we all go, and we all must treat everyone as our brothers and sisters. Those who have the least also contribute the least to waste and pollution and energy use, yet they are the ones who bear the worst burdens. This is unjust and immoral, and we cannot stand behind policies that are based in increasing the harm for them.
We have many more common faith, religious, and spiritual principles that bind us together to stand up to say no to this backward-looking energy decision and to encourage a forward looking one that fits the needs of the coastal states, the nation, and the world and the call of faith for so many people of different religious traditions in this nation. (The majority of people in the United States are affiliated with a faith tradition or self-identify as spiritual, and the majority of the nation also seems to love the nations beaches for their holidays. The nation’s energy solutions need to be sustainable for the long haul and bring us to a brighter, more hopeful future, not a more damaged one.
In the spirit of the living Creator, we sign this petition as people of faith joining with coastal governors, conservation groups from the land and the seas, sustainable energy groups, climate activists, fisheries protectors, and citizens who love their beaches, oceans, and planet. Together, we are the majority of the coastal populations, and more than likely, the nation as a whole.
We pray that you hear our plea. Remember, we are all voters too. We do not ask this just for ourselves, but to honor the Creator that made us and all the coastal economies and people within them who will be harmed…as well the marine fisheries and wildlife that help sustain us and generations to come.
Director, Interfaith Oceans
Author of Following St. Francis: John Paul II’s Call for Ecological Action
*** The photograph is of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard