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Surfrider Foundation’s Director of Marketing Matt McClain told us what Surfrider is doing to respond to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, how he thinks the spill is going to impact the industry, and how the action sports industry can get involved.
(See our related report on how the spill is impacting business for Gulf Coast surf shops.)
Here is what Matt had to say:
There will likely be an immediate impact to both surfers and retailers in the Gulf region, especially across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.
The oil really hasn’t hit Texas yet or the Tampa area yet, but it will eventually.
The impacts from this spill will hit every part of the Gulf, and hit it hard. Beyond the obvious issue, contact with surface oil and tar balls on the beach, this the type of oil is prone to volatilization – meaning it easily releases chemicals into the air. There could be significant health issues that affect surfers and beach goers. That could really hurt business.
It’s important to understand that even though we are at day 50 of this event, we are still just at the beginning. We are still a long way off from controlling the spill, and an even longer way off from managing the impacts.
Just in the last 48 hours we are seeing evidence that the wellbore, which is the casing for the well beneath the ocean floor, may be cracked. This is allowing the oil to infiltrate the strata and seep out from the ocean floor. That means that this leak just got a whole magnitude harder to control.
The oil from this spill will almost certainly travel outside the Gulf region, and could make its way up to the eastern seaboard and over to Europe. I am not exaggerating when I say that the impacts this spill will have on our environment and to some economic sectors will be generational.
As far as what people can do to help, here are five things that people can do to make a difference:
1. You can join more than 11,000 others and make your voice heard. Tell President Obama to restore the FULL moratorium that was put in place under Bush I (and offered protection to our coasts for decades) and allowed to expire under Bush II.
Obama, like Bush II, let this expired moratorium stay. President Obama is, as of last week, putting in place what I'd call a "mini-moratorium." It partially addresses what we're seeking but due to its limited scope, only offers partial protection.
Learn more about this subject and send President Obama a note here.
If you're in this area and have never connected with a local chapter, now is a great time to do it. The list of the local dozen chapters in the Gulf and in Florida can be found here.
3. Join thousands across America on June 26th as we come together to make our voice heard. On June 26th, we are coordinating a nationwide event. It's called Hand Across the Sand. It will take place in most-to-all coastal states in the United States.
4. Support Surfrider Foundation’s Not The Answer campaign. We began our Not The Answer campaign over two years ago when the moratorium was allowed to expire in 2008. Since then we have been successful in stopping offshore drilling efforts in Oregon and California. Find out more about this campaign here.
5. Support alternatives. The United States has 3% of the world's oil and uses 20% of the world's oil. Click here for more information.