Gulf Islands Conservancy, Inc.

Dedicated to the preservation and protection of the barrier islands and coastal wetlands of Mississippi.

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Gulf Islands Conservancy, Inc.
Post Office Box 1203
Gulfport, MS  39502-1203

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A Statement for the Gulf Islands Conservancy
at the April 23, 2005 Rally/Press Conference

Dr. Donald M. Bradburn

We are gathered here to confront the problem of proposed oil and gas exploration and drilling in the Gulf Islands Nationals Seashore (GINS). It has been about 30 years since the U.S. Congress passed the bill establishing the GINS and about 26 years since a Wilderness designation was established by federal legislation for Horn and Petit Bois Islands. Both of these bills were supported by a large majority of the citizens of this state.

Now the governor of this state, a friend of the petroleum industry, proposes to turn the industry loose in Mississippi coastal waters, a proposal that would, in our judgment, severely unfavorably impact upon the very values for which the Seashore was established.

We strongly believe that citizens in this state, knowing the facts, disapprove.  Senator Cochran, in appending an amendment to a federal supplemental spending bill that assured Mississippi's ownership of mineral rights underlying GINS, states "This language simply clarifies ownership while allowing the NPS to continue its good work in preserving the natural and historic features of the GINS"

It is very hard to maintain those values when the horizon is littered with platforms as close as one mile offshore, helicopter support traffic is whirring overhead, the night sky is continually lit up, water quality is diminished and flotsam and jetsam from oil rigs, to say nothing of oil itself, is floating up on the beaches. 

Consider also the possibility of finding and extracting oil and gas from beneath the islands.  Should this occur, it is likely that surface subsidence would result in partial or complete loss of the Mississippi barrier islands, an eventuality that the good work of the Park Service would be helpless to ameliorate and which would expose the mainland to direct, unabated hurricane strikes.

Oil and gas production would benefit the state far less than the business of tourism, which it would detrimentally impact, since most of the oil and gas profits would go out of state, and compared to tourism, the associated local jobs would be minuscule.   Why should we kick around the goose that lays our golden eggs?

The oil and gas that might be found is simply a drop in the bucket in terms of U.S. consumption. We currently consume one quarter of the world's energy, while we have only 5 % or less of its total reserves. We must not sacrifice our natural heritage which supports us now and for all future generations in pursuit of a "live for today ... get rich quick.... boondoggle".

If Senator Cochran is really serious, he should introduce legislation that would provide for a Federal buyout of Mississippi's coastal oil and gas mineral rights, giving Mississippi its moneyup front and preserving the resources that will continue to support and comfort us.  They are doing this in parts of Florida. Why not here?

Copyright 2005, Gulf Islands Conservancy, Inc.