Maryland Proposes New Oyster Sanctuaries
Sewage Spill Prompts Health Warning

Tar Balls On Our Beaches This Summer

Oilslickswirl You’re used to beach balls at Ocean City, Virginia Beach and other surfside resorts.  This summer, get ready for your kids to play with tar balls.

Experts are predicting that oil from the spill in the Gulf of Mexico is likely to make its way up the East Coast and as a result, we could find a few sticky tar balls on our shores, according to a report in The Baltimore Sun.  Even a few tar balls is too many for my taste.

Meanwhile, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is becoming more outspoken in his opposition to drilling off the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Back in March, before the spill, the Obama Administration said it favored offshore oil exploration off the Atlantic Coast from Maryland south to Florida, an area where drilling had been banned until the Bush Administration.

O’Malley told me last Tuesday (on May 18) that he wants to return to a drilling ban in our region. “I think a ban would be a prudent thing to do until we figure out a way to make sure what’s happened to the Gulf can never happen again,” O’Malley said in an interview.  “I think we need to understand what resources we have available to us to become energy independent. But we need to move in the direction of clean and green energy sources, and I would much rather see us spend the money and the time citing offshore wind than offshore rigs.”

On Friday, May 21, O’Malley was even stronger in an article in The Washington Post.  The newspaper noted that the governor was muted in his comments immediately after the Obama administration announcement.  But last week he told the newspaper: "I would be opposed to any drilling off the Chesapeake Bay…. I can't imagine anybody actually wanting to go forward with that now, given the disaster we're now coping with as a nation in the Gulf of Mexico."

In Virginia, Governor Robert McDonnell has been a strong supporter of offshore drilling.  "This is part of our plan to truly make Virginia the energy capital of the East Coast," McDonnell said at a news conference after the Obama Administration announced its proposal. "This is a great day for Virginia. It's one that we will say that in the near future has generated a significant number of jobs. This is the breakthrough."

Meanwhile, in The Baltimore Sun, Chesapeake Bay Foundation President Will Baker also called for a ban on offshore drilling in the Mid-Atlantic region:

“Offshore drilling creates a new pollution source, one capable of significant, even devastating environmental damage from drilling, transportation, storage or refinement,” Baker wrote in an opinion piece on Sunday. “The waters off the mouth of the Bay are indistinguishable both biologically and hydrologically from the Chesapeake. Ninety percent of the blue crab population utilizes those exact waters during the early life cycle stages. The crab larvae can float miles out into the ocean at the top centimeter of the water column (vulnerable to even the smallest oil spill) after they are spawned at the mouth of the bay.

“Just as science tells us that the waters of the bay's great tributary rivers are an integral part of the Chesapeake system, so too are the off-shore ocean waters, which actually account for more inflow to the bay than all of the rivers combined. Bottom line, when oil is handled around the water, it inevitably gets into the water. The quantity is determined only by the inevitable shortcomings of technology.”


By Tom Pelton

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

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For news on the oil spill and how it affected beaches in the Palm Beach area, read the Palm Beach Newspaper. They can be found at

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