November 09 2016

The Future of Our Ocean and Coasts

by Dr. Chad Nelsen

Yesterday, our nation voted the fate of our political future for the years ahead. No matter how one voted, one thing is clear – we must come together and work to advance what we believe in. We have a ton of work to do to continue our progress, fight to maintain important environmental laws and regulations, and protect the planet, our ocean and coasts. It’s time to step up and carry forward.

While we heard a lot of talk during the campaign, it is still unclear what specific actions President-elect Donald Trump will take on energy and environmental policies.

All of the work done to protect the US waters from offshore oil drilling must continue. As coastal defenders who work to support and protect the environment, we must ensure that the promises made last year at the international climate conference, COP21, under the Paris climate accord are implemented, including the Clean Power Plan and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency, which ensures the protection of human health and the environment, needs not only to continue to exist but also become stronger in its protection to avoid another crisis, such as that seen in Flint, Michigan, for the future.

There are silver linings resulting from Election Night. Despite a well-funded, deep-pocketed campaign by out-of-state Big Plastic, which spent more than $6 million to overturn its original passing, Californians have voted to uphold the statewide bag ban. This represents an important step towards reducing plastic pollution.  In Florida, where we have plenty of work ahead of us, voters defeated a misleading, utility-backed solar ballot initiative. The utility companies and their backers spent nearly $27 million on their campaign while the opposition only $1.5 million. The moral of the story is if we organize and fight together, we can win despite overwhelming odds.

So let’s take a moment and remember what we are capable of when we get organized. There is a lot of work for us to do not only at the federal level, but also important work to do at the local and state level. And of course, we’ll be fighting for a healthy planet, ocean and coasts at the federal level as well.

When talking to long time friend and colleague, Luis Jorge Herrera Rivera, the Goldman Prize winner who protected the Northeastern Ecological Corridor after decades of fighting and set backs, I asked how he carried forward. He responded, “What is the other choice?’ 

It’s time to dig even deeper and do our work to the best of our ability and make the difference that we are capable of achieving. We need to come together, rally even more people to our cause (and support others) and build an even stronger environmental movement. 

Thank you for joining us and helping to support and protect our ocean, waves and beaches for today, tomorrow and every day after. Long Live The Beach.

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