By JYOTHI NATARAJAN

PHOTO: flickr.com/kenhodge13
PHOTO: flickr.com/kenhodge13

On March 31, 2010, President Obama announced that he would begin to allow oil and gas drilling in the oceans off of the Atlantic Coast of the United States, areas of the Gulf Coast near Florida and parts of the coast of Alaska. Obama’s decision overturns a ban on offshore drilling in many of these areas. Obama called the plan “part of a broader strategy that will move us from an economy that runs on fossil fuels and foreign oil to one that relies more on homegrown fuels and clean energy.”

Beginning in 1982, the U.S. government began making more and more areas off the coasts of the United States off-limits to drilling due to environmental dangers. Offshore drilling can cause oil spills and increased pollution of waterways. Both of these things are harmful to animal life on the coast and in the water, and are also dangerous to humans.

Environmental groups around the country are critical of President Obama’s decision and are rising up in protest. People joined together on several beaches in Florida to voice their anger over the decision. Adam Rivera of the group Environment Florida said that as a result of the decision, “we will depend no less on foreign nations for energy, spend no less at the pump, and fear no less for our security. Instead, by expanding drilling in two-thirds of the Eastern Gulf, we risk catastrophic damage to our world-famous beaches and ocean ecosystem.”

This protester in St. Petersburg, Florida, drenched herself in chocolate sauce to protest oil drilling. PHOTO: blogs.creativeloafing.com
This protester in St. Petersburg, Florida, drenched herself in chocolate sauce to protest oil drilling. PHOTO: blogs.creativeloafing.com