WatchSonoma Watch

GUEST OPINION: Standing up for our coastal economy


Richard Charter is senior policy adviser for marine programs at Defenders of Wildlife. He lives in Bodega Bay.

Offshore drilling threatens our coastal-dependent economy, our natural heritage and many of the most important values we enjoy every day in Sonoma County.

This Saturday, at Doran Beach in Bodega Bay, Californians will join hands with friends and neighbors to protect our coast from this dirty and dangerous practice during this year’s “Hands Across the Sand” event.

As evidenced by the unusual number of dead dolphins washing up on Gulf beaches, last summer’s BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster continues to affect the Gulf of Mexico and the wildlife and livelihoods it supports. Instead of taking steps to ensure that offshore drilling is made safer, the House has actually passed legislation that would imperil more of the country’s fragile waters — including those off our own shores here in California.

A series of reckless drilling bills passed by the House would mandate the installation of drilling rigs only three miles off of Malibu, within Santa Monica Bay and along the Orange County beaches all the way to La Jolla — eventually including even Sonoma County — in its shortsighted offshore drilling plans.

The members of Congress spearheading these assaults on our coast know that drilling here will not, and cannot, actually lower the price of gas at the pump. For them, the issue of offshore drilling is used merely as a short-sighted political maneuver in the election cycle.

We Californians must protect the coast that is our inheritance and safeguard it for future generations. This means bringing together like-minded individuals and organizations with the conviction to organize a global movement to promote a clean energy future and end our dependence on fossil fuels.

Through these efforts we hope to convince our state legislators, governors, Congress and President Barack Obama and other world leaders to adopt policies encouraging the growth of clean and renewable energy sources in place of oil and coal.

This weekend, “Hands Across the Sand” will unite people of all walks of life, transcending political affiliations and even international borders. Last year’s movement featured events not only in all 50 states but in 43 other countries around the world. This movement is not about politics but rather the protection of our coastal economies, oceans, marine wildlife and fisheries.

Expanded offshore drilling and its potential to cause devastating accidents threaten all of these things. Only by embracing high-tech energy efficiency and responsibly-sited clean energy can we truly move beyond the dangers of dirty fossil fuels and eliminate the risks they pose to our coastal environments.

I hope to see you on Doran Beach at 11 a.m. Saturday at the whale sculpture across from the Coast Guard Station. Please bring your family and friends to help us in our effort to keep California’s coasts beautiful — and safe. To encourage carpooling, the normal daily $6 use fee for the park will be waived for our event for all vehicles with at least four occupants.

To learn more about our event, visit: www.surfrider.org/sonomacoast.

15 Responses to “GUEST OPINION: Standing up for our coastal economy”

  1. Jim M says:

    OPEC controls the price of oil, for every gallon of oil we produce they will simply produce a gallon less. They are shooting for a price that maximizes their profits, they want the price as high as they can get without seriously decreasing demand.

    I think there will be a time when it is a good idea to drill off the coast, but it is not now. Every year that goes by without us drilling the price goes up, and the safety of the rigs gets better.

  2. Frank says:


    yes scream for green

    we won’t drill for oil on our coast but will send 2.5 billion down to brazil for off shore oil

    thank you Obama

    cut down trees for a better view of the coast ? yet will not allow windmills for a green environment

    thank you kennedys

    scream about slave labor overseas, but check the label on youur jacket Rich
    i can be so proud of the movement

    oh for those of you wearing gold and diamonds, eating crab and salmon
    thats called mining and farming

    thank you
    Hows that moderator

  3. Fiscal Conservative says:

    What if we never drilled in Texas,Pennsylvania,Bakersfield or Alaska?

    What if those communities were so selfish with NIMBYisim that those wells were never drilled?

    I believe that industry and the environment can work together. For our future as a nation of free people, it will need to.

  4. Canthisbe says:

    “The members of Congress spearheading these assaults on our coast know that drilling here will not, and cannot, actually lower the price of gas at the pump”.

    What is the factual basis for this statement? So-called environmentalists use this argument against drilling for oil everywhere in US. While is is true that any additional oil production of minimal volume will not have noticeable impact on the price of gas, if we were to drill at every location that the so-called environmentalists use this argument against we would produce millions of barrels of oil and that would have a material impact on the price of gas. It would also produce thousands of American jobs, would improve our trade deficit by billions of dollars and would deprive Iran, Russia, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia of billions of dollars that they use against us. WE need to assure that the best practical practices are used to produce oil – but we should produce more of our own oil. present weree Any oil production

  5. Frank says:

    what a one sided website

  6. Edgar Perez says:

    Richard’s head seems to be buried deep in the mud of Bodega Bay. That must prevent him from seeing what is going on around him. Great recession, oil prices skyrocketing, Middle East in political turmoil.

    Not a pretty picture for a yippie in a suit sitting on a beach dreaming of calm seas and gathering his flock to hold hands and sing the 60′s songs to prevent off shore oil drilling.

    When will these people get a grip? I forgot this is Sonoma County, land of too many people dreaming and seeing rainbows and poppies. Time to face reality folks. Clear that smokey haze from around you heads and let this country get done what has to be done.

    Reduce the dependence on foreign oil and go for engery independence in the next 20 years which will include new oil fields off the coast.

  7. David says:

    You have to love the Coastal NIMBY’s. They live in million dollar plus homes, have million dollar views and don’t want anybody else to move there. They drive big expensive cars and drive them to Santa Rosa, etc. because there are no stores where they live. They rarely use alternative sources of energy and want to preach to the peons how they should live their lives.

  8. Juvenal says:

    There are trillions of cubic yards of natural gas beneath this country. Let’s use that first.

  9. bill says:

    Last call for ethanol? Whatever happened to alternative energy? The fellow is trying to protect nature. Bless him.

  10. Steve Humphrey says:

    The environzazis fail to understand that we are an economy dependent on oil. Not just for our cars and trucks, but also for the thousands of other products we consume derived from oil and other fossil fuels.
    Ending our dependence right now is not an option, yet it is the only one they propose. Until we can make more reformations towards other energy sources this is the hand we have been dealt and it’s time we stop exporting our dollars to third world nations that not only control our destiny, but use those sources for their spread of hatred towards us.
    Drill here, drill now.

  11. Drill baby Drill says:

    It’s about time we start drilling for our own ,gas prices is so ___ high ! we need someone strong to standup to these treehuggers!

  12. The Hammer says:

    How are the protesters getting to Doran Park? I hope not by autos which use gas.

    This guy hasn’t got a clue what he is taking about. Probably doesn’t want us to cut tress either, but I bet he lives in a home make of wood.

    I do have to give him some credit for it sounds like he is an advocate of nuclear power.

    Drill baby, drill!

    Oh, if I where him a would move to China. He could really clean up the mess they have with pollution.

  13. Chris says:

    I am standing up too for our coastal economy.

    Now start drilling so we can have the massive influx of dollars that would come our way from this valuable resource that is in our backyard.

  14. Pearl Alquileres says:

    I’m sure Richard is a good man. I happen to believe that Barack Obama is a decent man as well but they both are either ignorant (NOT in the pejorative sense) or just naive.
    We constantly hear about how drilling American oil “will not, and cannot, actually lower the price of gas at the pump.”
    Bill Clinton said in 1996 that drilling in Anwar wouldn’t do any good because it would take 10 years for that oil to reach the market. (We would be 5 years into Anwar production by now!)
    Every time gas prices shoot up we hear about another Congressional Investigation that goes nowhere. They drag the CEOs of the oil companies in and chastise them before the voters. (Doing the same thing over & over, expecting a different result?)
    Due to the way the international oil market works, the ONLY way we Americans are ever going to have any control over gas/oil prices is for us to produce more oil here. NOT because we can refine & burn our own oil, the market doesn’t work that way. Most of the oil we currently produce goes to Japan while we buy oil abroad. THAT’S the way the market works.
    But if we were producing more oil here we would have the ability to increase production when OPEC refuses too and thus have SOME say in the price of a barrel of oil.
    People like Richard have been paving the road to hell with their good intentions long enough. It’s time to stop listening to highly educated, extremely knowledgeable fools (there’s your pejorative) & start producing oil in the United States. However, wherever and NOW!

  15. Skippy says:

    Richard is a swell guy. His dedication to this cause is real. He lives what he believes. He is a man of honor and integrity.
    That said, unless and until a viable alternative to oil is developed, we will always have to drill in somebody’s backyard.
    The only question we have to answer is which one.
    If not ours, then whose?