Over the past thirteen years, Lynnhaven River NOW’s Board of Directors has been prudent about taking public positions, choosing the issue carefully and considering varying viewpoints before reaching a conclusion. We have taken positions in opposition to the introduction of the Asian oyster, in opposition to the development of Pleasure House Point , in support of light rail for Virginia Beach, and are taking a position in opposition to offshore drilling for oil and gas.
There were many considerations that influenced our decision. The City has made a big investment in the resort area and keeping our beaches clean. We have the opportunity to expand on the new Keep It Beachy Clean initiative and market our city as the cleanest tourist destination on the East Coast. Tourism is a major component of our economy and could be devastated by a spill related to oil and gas exploration off our coast.
But the risk is not limited to a disaster. More importantly, exploration with seismic blasting, contamination from drilling, routine leaks of toxic drilling fluids, construction of pipelines, storage facilities, and refineries, routine discharges permitted by EPA, all damage wildlife, water quality, and the landscape.
Oil and gas are toxic to blue crab larvae, oysters, and many species of finfish and shellfish. A decline in these populations will have a detrimental effect on our commercial fishing industry and recreational fishing as well as our local restaurants, seafood markets and wholesale seafood businesses. The oyster harvest in the Gulf is still 1/3 of the harvest numbers before the BP disaster. In addition, oil and gas destroy wetlands and all of the species that depend on them. Destruction of wetlands also makes our shorelines more vulnerable to erosion and flooding.
Cleaning up a spill is difficult, expensive and only limitedly effective. Areas affected by the spill remain impacted for decades after the incident. Even without a major spill, cleaning up the routine production oil discharges is limited and drilling fluids, lubricants, and produced waters pumped into wells can create their own pollution problems.
We have all worked hard to restore and protect our natural resources in Virginia Beach. We appreciate that clean water, local seafood, and clean beaches are a big part of our quality of life and our economy. We do not want to see them put at risk for oil and gas exploration.
Thank you for considering this issue and its potential impact on the things that we love. And please speak out and let our elected officials know your thoughts on this important question.