Members of the environmental activism group 350 Pensacola are planning to travel to New Orleans on Wednesday. The trip will coincide with the federal sale of leases to more than 42 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for new oil and gas development.
“This Wednesday, March 23 is certainly one of the most important days ever in the modern history of the Gulf of Mexico,” said Christian Wagley, program chairperson for 350 Pensacola.
Wagley is referring to the sale by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) scheduled for this Wednesday inside the Superdome, where it will auction off leases to up to 43 million acres of Gulf waters off the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and western Florida.
“Our concern is that we are in the mix right now of this inevitable transition to clean, renewable energy,” Wagley said. “And, continuing to encourage oil and gas drilling offshore in the Gulf of Mexico will put us down a path for decades to come of continuing to put our local beaches here in Florida at risk, our local economy at risk.”
Ultimately, there’s concern about the dangers of extracting fossil fuels for the global climate.
Wagley makes the point that the “easy-to-get oil and gas” has already been gotten, which means companies are having to go farther offshore and drill even deeper.
Such operations are more expensive and more dangerous. As an example, he notes the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion that resulted in the deaths of eleven people and started the release of millions of barrels of oil in the Gulf. It was the largest marine oil spill in U.S. history.
It is with this disaster in mind that 350 Pensacola and other environmental and social justice groups will be descending on New Orleans. Their mission is to “Surround the Superdome” for a day of protest against more drilling in the Gulf.
Thousands of people from the Gulf Coast and from around the country are expected to converge on the Superdome where the lease sale is actually taking place.
Wagley said their plan is “To link together to form that human chain and do a little civil disobedience, a peaceful protest to try to actually block that sale and to send a strong message that we don’t want that sale to take place.”
The purpose of the demonstration is also to show support for clean energy. Wagley describes the growth in solar power and wind energy as ‘exponential’ and he believes the transition to clean, renewable energy is inevitable.
350 Pensacola is working with groups such as Emerald Coastkeepers, Center for Biological Diversity, Surfrider, and Hands Across the Sand to organize and promote the protest. A bus from Pensacola will carry Florida activists to the event in New Orleans, departing at 4:00 a.m. Wednesday.
There's still an opportunity to serve a seat. Tickets for the bus are free, but donations will be accepted.
Follow the event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/186830405025485/?active_tab=highlights