Monday, March 16, 2009


Two things happened last week of some import to surfers. First, an oil barge in Australia hit by cyclone-inspired rough seas spilled thousands of gallons of oil, forcing authorities to declare "a disaster zone along 37 miles (60 kilometers) of some of Australia's most popular beaches in Queensland." Second, on Friday -- the 13th no less -- the temporary closures kicked in along Cape Hatteras National Seashore, barring both ORVs and pedestrians to huge hunks of pristine coastline. (click here to see just how huge.)

These incidents happened a half-world apart, but they remain surprisingly linked. Why? Because right now the US Petroleum industry is engaged in a full court press to open America's shores to offshore drilling. Already ridiculously well-funded and relentless, the current budget crisis crippling most coastal states makes the idea of oil revenue (however paltry compared to the billions in tourism) sound like good economic policy for politicians already getting big money from big oil. Because the frontlines of this fight may come down to North Carolina and Virginia -- where hurricanes (what Aussies call cyclones) -- routinely swoop past, making rigs and ships a much scarier idea. And where this beach closure issue - sparked and strengthened by a lawsuit started by Audobon and Defenders of Wildlife -- has turned 'environmentalists' into the official enemy of coastal residents, making it all the harder to enlist support from the fishermen and pro-access activists who feel their rights were taken away by green devils.

Check the link of how huge the closures are; read the interview with Trip Forman below about the science behind the closures, then let Audubon and Defenders know they can still find a compromise that will salvage a working relationship with the angry masses and maybe turn them toward a much larger environmental threat that has the ability to ruin habitats for all coastal species.

Then send an email to with your name and address supporting surfers access rights at Cape Hatteras moving forward.

Finally, if you haven't already, take the Surf-First survey so when your break's under attack, there's some good surfing stats to defend it. And if you think your break is safe, you're wrong. From Florida to Maine the powers that be want to keep you off the beach.

And why not? The fewer people who enjoy the beach, the easier it is to drill, baby, drill.

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