National Park Service

Our Campaigns

Environmental Defense: Our Oceans

Goal: Defend our oceans, marine wildlife and beaches by stopping new offshore drilling and more.
Our country is blessed with sandy beaches, rocky coves, towering sea cliffs and an astonishing variety of ocean wildlife along our shores. Yet President Trump wants to allow oil and gas drilling in as much as 90 percent of our coastal waters. We’re doing all we can to protect and preserve our oceans, the wildlife that lives in them, and our beaches.
  • <h4>WHEN YOU DRILL, YOU SPILL</h4><h5>In 1969, a massive oil spill hit the Santa Barbara coast. In 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Alaska’s Prince William Sound. In 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded. When you drill for oil in the ocean, spills happen.</h5><em>Office of Bobby Jindal / CC-BY-SA-2.0</em>
  • <h4>LOWERING THE BOOM ON WHALES</h4><h5>To search for oil, companies use seismic testing: an innocuous term for loud booms delivered every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day, for days or weeks at a time—disrupting the health of marine animals.</h5><em>NOAA</em>
  • <h4>A LEAVE NO BEACH UNSPOILED PLAN</h4><h5>The Trump administration's plan would allow oil and gas exploration and drilling in 90 percent of our coastal waters—across the entire Atlantic Seaboard, the entire Gulf of Mexico, the entire Pacific Coast, and Alaska’s Arctic Coast.</h5><em>J.D.S. via Shutterstock</em>
  • <h4>DEFENDING OUR FIRST ATLANTIC <i>BLUE PARK</i></h4><h5>We’re also opposing any plan to roll back protections for America’s national monuments, including the Northeast Canyons and Seamount Monument off the coast of New England.</h5><em>NOAA OKEANOS Explorer Program,via Flickr/CC by 2.0</em>
The miracle of the sea

From California’s Big Sur to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, our country is blessed with beautiful coasts and abundant ocean wildlife.

These are the beaches where families and friends come together, where kids experience what Walt Whitman called the “continual miracle” of the sea. These are the waters where dolphins and seals surf the waves, sea turtles patrol the reefs, and the last great whales migrate up and down our coasts. They remind us, as Rachel Carson did, that “in every curving beach, in every grain of sand, there is a story of the earth.”

The Deepwater Horizon rig spilled 200 million gallons of oil in the Gulf of Mexico
U.S. Coast Guard
Offshore oil and gas drilling is a direct threat to the coastal waters and wildlife we love

In 1969, an oil platform blowout spilled tens of thousands of barrels of oil onto nearly 40 miles of coastline in Santa Barbara County, California.

In 1989, the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound, spreading to 1,300 miles of coastline.

In 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded, releasing more than 200 million gallons of oil that washed up on beaches from Louisiana to Florida and spread far into the Gulf of Mexico.

Exploring for new oil and gas deposits can also damage ocean wildlife. For example, whales and dolphins depend on their hearing to navigate and communicate. “Seismic testing” subjects these animals to loud booms every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day, for days or even weeks at a stretch.

Not a world we have to live in anymore

In an age of remarkable advances in energy conservation and renewable energy technologies, at a time when global warming poses an existential threat to future generations, sacrificing our beaches and ocean wildlife is no longer, if it ever was, the price we must pay for progress. That’s not a world we have to live in anymore. Nor is it the future our children deserve.

That’s why, after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, we urged President Obama to ban all new offshore drilling off America’s coast. In 2016, he did and we applauded him.

In January, the Trump administration lifted President Obama’s drilling ban and vowed to allow drilling in nearly all of America’s coastal waters—even in areas where oil companies have expressed zero interest.

Under the Trump administration’s January announcement, oil and gas exploration and drilling would be allowed off the entire Atlantic Seaboard, the entire Gulf of Mexico, the entire Pacific Coast, and Alaska’s Arctic Coast.

In other words, we’d allow drilling nearly everywhere, putting hundreds of our beaches and millions of animals in the ocean at risk for oil we can live without.

Faced with strong opposition from Gov. Rick Scott, the administration reversed course—although tentatively, and amid some confusion—on one state: Florida. The reversal left other coastal state governors, leaders and citizens wondering: If Florida’s beaches are too precious to risk for the sake of oil, why not ours?


How can we keep more oil spills from spoiling our beaches and harming marine wildlife?

RIGHT NOW: We’re making the case against the administration’s actions and plans, and alerting our supporters and the public that #ThisIsNotADrill: Tell the administration that our coastal waters are too precious for offshore drilling. Public and political opposition may have won a reprieve for Florida. It can do the same for other states.

IN THE LONG RUN: Ultimately, we need to win enough hearts and minds over to our point of view so that allowing offshore drilling anywhere in America becomes a career-ending move for any elected official. That’s one more reason why our work to raise awareness and get people involved matters so much right now.

Save Our Shores rallies in Massachusetts, Florida, California, and North Carolina (clockwise from top left).
Saving our shores

We know we can make a difference on this issue.

After the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, we urged state leaders and citizens across the country to call on President Obama to declare the nation’s coastal waters off-limits to drilling, and celebrated when he delivered in 2016.

In 1984, our affiliate Florida PIRG's Ann Whitfield was the lone citizen to testify at an Interior Department hearing on offshore drilling, but after enlisting thousands of Floridians in "Beach Voter" and "Save Our Shores" campaigns, we won a series of moratoriums on drilling in Florida.

Protecting our coasts will require us to act where and when it matters most. We have staff in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, California, Oregon and Washington state, and supporters in every coastal state.