Students in bright yellow Hazmat suits and caution tape were an unusual scene at North Plaza on April 17.
“This is a metaphor of what has happened in the past and what may happen in the future regarding oil spills that have been going on,” said CJ Duncan, a member of Northern Virginia Community College’s Green Club.
The scene, a demonstration put on by a partnership between Global Interdisciplinary Programs, the Environmental Action Group (EAG) and the international non-profit, Oceana, took place in commemoration of the of the third anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which occurred on April 20, 2010.
“Offshore drilling is still as dirty and dangerous as it was three years ago,” said Colin Nackerman, a representative from EAG, in a press release about the event. “We need to invest in renewable energy sources like offshore wind, rather than expanding offshore drilling into new areas like the East Coast.”
Lisa Breglia, director of Global Interdisciplinary Programs, said that 114 signatures were collected during the event.
“Students were initially curious and then enthusiastic about our event,” Breglia said. “They were familiar with the dangers of offshore drilling and many were sympathetic to our cause. Students were less familiar with the issue of seismic airgun testing, so it was a great opportunity to spread some information about this.”
Seismic airguns shoot pressurized air into the ocean floor in search of oil and gas reserves.
According to Oceana, the noise of the seismic air-guns is detrimental to the health of marine mammals, fish, seaturtles and other wildlife.
The organizations propose the use of offshore wind energy as an alternative to offshore drilling.
“Cleaning up oil is a dirty job and we prefer to keep it clean in the first place,” Duncan said.
Senior Zach Willis, who is involved with EAG, noted that there is still a demand for oil despite offshore drilling.
“I wouldn’t say that I am against drilling, because people do use oil, but we should be raising awareness of the problems,” Willis said. “Banning [oil] won’t stop people from using it.”
Sophomore Victoria Gold, who signed the petition, agrees with investing in clean energy and solar and wind power.
Oceana is garnering support from East Coast residents because of the Obama administration’s plan for seismic airgun testing in the Atlantic ocean. Volunteers from EAG and Oceana as well as representatives from Global Interdisciplinary Programs asked students to sign a petition to ask President Barack Obama to deny the oil industry the ability to use seismic airguns.
The event was one of many that will take place during the Earth Day weekend.
“There are 20 events like ours at college campuses across the country,” Breglia said. “We are so excited that Mason was able to join this national effort, linking our campus and student group, EAG, to the larger cause.”
Originally published in Broadside: http://broadsideonline.com/2013/04/23/students-petition-oil-drilling-plans-6502/#sthash.q5iZ6zzi.dpuf