It wasn't that long ago when millions of Americans crowded around their television sets and watched helplessly as millions of gallons of oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico. Without a doubt, the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster was one of the worst environmental disasters in American history, spilling over 200 million gallons of oil, killing thousands of animals, and inflicting billions of dollars in damage. Quite simply, the economic, ecological, and cultural consequences of the spill were devastating.
A spill of the magnitude of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay would have a similar impact, threatening life in the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia coast, the fishing and tourism industries, military operations, and the thousands of jobs that rely upon a protected shoreline. Indeed, a 2014 CBF study reveals that the lands and waters of the Chesapeake Bay region provide over $107 billion of economic benefits annually.
As the Gulf of Mexico region still recovers from the BP Deepwater Horizon spill approaching the sixth anniversary of the event, the risks of offshore drilling should still be fresh in our minds. Which is why this week we celebrate the Obama Administration declaring oil drilling off-limits in the Atlantic Ocean. This is a huge victory, overturning a previous plan which would have allowed risky offshore oil and gas drilling off the coasts of Virginia and several Southern states.
This Week in the Watershed: Offshore Drilling, Living Shoreline, and Victory in Virginia
- People can't take their eyes off webcams of a pair of peregrine falcons in Baltimore and an osprey couple on the Chesapeake Bay. (WTOP—D.C.)
- A plan by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge for oyster shells on the Man-O-War Shoal outside of Baltimore is not without controversy. (Bay Journal)
- President Obama withdrew permits for the oil and gas industry to drill off the Atlantic coast from Virginia to Georgia, to the applause of environmental groups. (New York Times—NY) Related: CBF Statement
- A "living" shoreline project reveals how using natural resources can reinvigorate an ecosystem when combating erosion. (Washington Post—D.C.)
- As if we didn't know it already, new state data reveals that there is too much phosphorus on the fields of Maryland's Eastern Shore. (Bay Journal)
- A Chinese environmentalist is attempting to use the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint to clean his local waters. (Bay Journal)
- A proposed bill in the Maryland General Assembly is seeking for the state to pay for damages to boats from oyster restoration reefs. When looked at closely, the legislation could establish a dangerous legal precedent. (Star Democrat—MD)
- The Virginia General Assembly wrapped up last week with major victories won for clean water. The legislature approved vital support for programs that will help restore the Commonwealth's rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. (CBF Statement)
- Clean water in Maryland was dealt a blow when the Maryland Court of Appeals upheld lower court rulings that allow for vague, weak permits regulating polluted runoff. (Capital Gazette—MD)
- Pleasure House Point, the home of CBF's Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach, VA, is experiencing a rebirth in wildlife and fauna. (Virginian Pilot—VA)
What's Happening Around the Watershed?
- Annapolis, MD: Join CBF's Maryland senior scientist and staff to learn about the natural history and current state of the Chesapeake Bay. Also, get a tour of CBF's environmentally sustainable headquarters, the Philip Merrill Environmental Center. Click here to learn more and register!
- Richmond, VA: Enjoy tasty sweets and sweet knowledge at CBF's Desserts and Discussion, where we'll learn about different aspects of our local waterways! This month, Dr. Lesley Bulluck, assistant professor at VCU's Department of Biology and the Center for Environmental Studies will speak on her work with Prothonotary Warblers. Bring a dessert to share with the group and win a prize for the most delicious contribution! Click here to register!
- Machipongo, VA: Learn how native plants can enhance the beauty of yards and gardens, attract beneficial birds and insects, and improve the health of local creeks and the Chesapeake Bay. A complimentary lunch will be provided. Click here to register! This event is FULL!
- Easton, MD: Join author of Chesapeake Oysters: The Bay's Foundation and Future, Kate Livie, as she explores the tangled, compelling, and sometimes controversial story of the Bay's favorite bivalve. Livie follows the story of the oyster from a survival food in Jamestown to the oyster wars of the 19th century, through to today's modern oyster wars over aquaculture, sanctuaries, and oyster reef restoration. Copies of the book will be available for purchase, and Livie will sign books after an opportunity for Q&A from the audience. Click here to register!
- Virginia Beach, VA: The Brock Environmental Center (BEC), one of the world's most energy-efficient buildings, is looking for tour guides! We are looking for outgoing individuals who will be trained, tested, and ultimately designated official BEC Tour Guides! To RSVP, e-mail Chris Gorri at CGorri@cbf.org with "Tour Guide" in the subject line, or call 757-622-1964.
- Cambridge, MD: Come plant trees with CBF at Jones Farm. Over 1,200 native trees will be planted on six acres to restore the riparian buffer. This area is critical habitat for the Delmarva fox squirrel and coastal dependent birds including salt marsh sparrows and American black ducks. No tree planting experience is necessary, and all materials and supplies are provided. Families and children welcome. Click here to register!
- Stay tuned for a spring chock full of events, ranging from tree plantings to town halls to discovery paddles. Check out our online calendar to get the full scoop!
—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate