Members of Seaside’s surfing community let their voices be heard as they joined the Surfrider Foundation in a business alliance to oppose to offshore oil drilling.
On Monday, Dennis Smith, co-owner and founder of Seaside Surf Shop and Lauren Ahlgren of Oregon Surf Adventures put their signatures on a surfboard signed by business owners throughout the Pacific Coast.
The surfboard has traveled through coastal communities, with members of the Business Alliance for Protecting the Pacific Coast signing the surfboard as it travels north.
“This is our livelihood, and our lifestyle,” Smith said. ““Obviously our livelihood requires clean water. We would never want to see anything that could potentially damage that.”
The aim of the signature drive, Surfrider’s Jocelyn Enevoldsen said, is to show opposition to a federal administration proposal to open 90 percent of U.S. waters, including the Pacific Coast, to new oil and gas drilling.
“This is a petition from all of our West Coast communities saying we don’t want drilling in our Pacific — not here, not now, no way, no how.”
The proposal threatens both the health of the marine environment and the many coastal businesses and industries that depend upon it for survival, Enevoldsen said.
No new oil leases have been offered off the Pacific coast since 1984, but the federal proposal calls for seven from 2019 to 2024.
The surfboard, donated by Firewire Surfboards, began its journey in San Diego in March.
It’s headed up the entire West Coast and all along the way, local business owners are signing the surfboard, which is symbolic of them joining a coalition of more than 1,000 business owners who are opposed to offshore drilling in the Pacific.
In spring of 2019, the surfboard and its signatures head to Washington, D.C., and to Ryan Zinke who is head of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
In Oregon, the cities of Port Orford, Newport, Lincoln City, Toledo, Yachats, and Gold Beach have passed resolutions opposing the proposal. The Siletz Tribal Council and Ports of Toledo and Newport have also passed resolutions.
How imminent is oil and natural gas drilling in the Pacific?
“It’s hard to say,” Enevoldsen said. “We’re living in some pretty wild times. It’s important for us to speak up and come together and speak up and represent our ocean values. The exploration phase hasn’t started and hopefully won’t, given the strong opposition we’ve seen from West Coast business owners.”