Press Room

Oil and Birds Don’t Mix—Opening Our Coasts to Drilling is a Bad Idea

By doubling down on offshore drilling, the White House ignores science and tempts fate.

WASHINGTON— “America’s coastal communities have learned too many times that oil and birds don’t mix—why hasn't the White House?” said David Yarnold (@david_yarnold), president and CEO of Audubon, in anticipation of President Donald Trump’s expected executive order to open stretches of the Arctic and  Atlantic coasts to new oil and gas leases.

“With millions of birds feeding, migrating and nesting along our shores and the resulting multimillion-dollar birding business, our coasts are too valuable both biologically and economically to put them at risk.

“These are the same birds and beaches already threatened by rising sea levels, extreme weather and other effects of our changing climate. A bipartisan majority of Americans support a transition to clean energy. Keeping our coasts safe from future oil and gas drilling is a no-brainer.”

Seabirds and shorebirds are especially vulnerable to oil spills and other threats posed by oil and gas exploration, including collision with offshore platforms, declines in food resources and climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions. The 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is estimated to have resulted in the deaths of an estimated one million birds, including approximately 12 percent of the Brown Pelican population in the northern Gulf.

In addition to the ecological threats to millions of birds, expanding offshore drilling poses a threat to local economies. Ocean-dependent tourism is listed by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) as a “significant economic use” in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The economic impact of ocean-dependent tourism in North Carolina is estimated at $3 billion and supports more than 32,000 jobs. Studies of the economic impact of birds and birding in the United States list the southeastern United States as the region that generates the greatest economic impact of any region of the United States. At Cape Hatteras National Seashore alone, the National Park Service estimates that the seashore attracts 2.2 to 2.7 million visitors annually, contributes $131 million to the local economy, and supports 1,800 jobs.

To learn more about Audubon’s work protecting the birds that depend on healthy coasts, please visit https://www.audubon.org/conservation/coasts.

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.

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Contact: Nicolas Gonzalez, ngonzalez@audubon.org, (212) 979-3068.

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