A Statement for the Gulf
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?