Here’s why you should pay attention.
Why the Astro Bill is so bad
The ASTRO Bill, or Accessing Strategic Resources Offshore Act, is designed at its core to put America’s marine environments at risk. There are 6 main changes that it aims to make. Put in simple terms, they are:
- It ties the hands of future presidents.
1. ASTRO proposes to ban the creation of any new National Marine Monument by any future President, requiring instead an Act of Congress.
- It endangers the Arctic for no reason.
1. ASTRO would rescind the critical “Arctic Rule”, which was enacted to help protect the vast biological systems of the Arctic Ocean if and when offshore drilling proceeds in this fragile region.
- It’s a job killer.
1. ASTRO would open Alaska’s permanently-protected Bristol Bay to offshore oil and gas leasing. This threatens an important employment sector in Alaska and compromises a substantial segment of U.S. fishery exports now sustainably harvested from the richest Sockeye Salmon fishing grounds on the planet.
- It wastes money.
1. ASTRO aims to redirect revenues from offshore drilling away from the federal treasury. Instead, this money will go to coercing reluctant local governments and certain select coastal states (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alaska) into accepting the risks of drilling accidents and routine pollution off their coasts. The Bill also uses an incentivized revenue-sharing formula based on proximity, meaning the closer to shore offshore drilling is allowed, the more revenue the state and localities could potentially obtain.
- It makes offshore drilling more dangerous
1. ASTRO would combine the competing and often-conflicting roles of federal offshore revenue collection, worker safety, and environmental stewardship. These roles were duly separated as a result of expensive lessons learned following the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster.
- It eliminates rational planning of oil leases
- By amending and replacing the successful provisions of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLAA) that now ensure orderly due consultation with impacted coastal states, the ASTRO bill language would instead give the Secretary of Interior broad new authority to add additional offshore lease sales.
What you can do about it
You might be asking yourself at this point: why on Earth would the US allow something like this to happen? Why would we consider enacting something with such heavy risks to the marine environment?
And why should America invest so heavily in the extraction of a nonrenewable resource, when the sustainable future for renewable energy is right in front of our eyes and ripe for investment and development?
The Ocean holds so much power. The potential is there for offshore wind and tidal power. But we choose to make our investment instead in a short term gain with high risks. Ocean mining is fraught with danger. Is that rational thinking?
If you believe this idea is dangerous for the future of our oceans, and you want to make a difference, here’s what you can do:
Contact your representatives via phone call, email, social media, etc. and state that you’re opposed to the ASTRO Bill, especially if you live in the districts of those members on the House Natural Resources Committee’s Energy & Mineral Resources Sub-committee.
Photo: Robert Pittman/NOAA/Wikimedia Commons (CC0)