Coastal Voices Summit unites partners in opposition to offshore drilling

Becca Summers
Advocacy Coordinator

At the end of January, I had the opportunity to attend Oceana’s Coastal Voices Summit in Washington, D.C. with representatives across the east coast, spanning from Delaware down to Florida. We all came to Washington to talk to the Administration and our respected state legislators about the harms of offshore oil and gas drilling and seismic airgun blasting.

The Summit kicked off with a program at George Washington University’s Jack Morton Auditorium, where more than 100 of my colleagues working on offshore drilling were joined by special guests Ted Danson, Kate Walsh and Sam Waterston!  To begin the program, Oceana welcomed more than 30 coastal leaders on the stage.  These leaders included local elected officials such as Mayor Diane Hanson from Dewey Beach, Del., business owners, such as our own Laura Wood Habr, Vice President of Virginia Beach’s Restaurant Association and owner of Croc’s 19th Street Bistro, and activists leading the fight in their state, such as Wendy Vaughn from the Garden Club of Virginia.  Both Kate Walsh and Ted Danson took the stage during the evening to commend those who have been working so hard on this issue in the Atlantic, speak toward why offshore drilling is such an important issue to tackle, and encourage everyone to continue the fight.

Becca Summers, advocacy coordinator for Virginia LCV, with Sam Waterson (left) and Ted Danson, of Law & Order and Cheers fame, respectively, during Oceana's Coastal Voices Summit in Washington D.C.

Becca Summers, advocacy coordinator for Virginia LCV, with Sam Waterson (left) and Ted Danson, of Law & Order and Cheers fame, respectively, during Oceana’s Coastal Voices Summit in Washington D.C.

After the program, Oceana’s special guests graciously spent their time talking to some of the attendees, and I was lucky enough to speak with Sam Waterson and Ted Danson. Both were familiar with the League of Conservation Voters and recognized the Virginia LCV pin I was wearing! Mr. Danson even shared with me that he follows California’s LCV and decides how to vote based on their analysis of the candidates. It’s great to be a part of a bigger organization that has such great branding across the U.S. as the political arm of the environmental movement. Finally, Mr. Waterson urged me to stay involved in the environmental movement, with the caveat that though I might not see results immediately, when I’m his age I’ll be able to look back and see a world of positive change in environmental policy, just has he has seen in his life.

The second day of the Costal Voices Summit was our lobby day on the Hill. Kate Walsh was joined by elected officials and business owners to meet with Administration representatives in the Eisenhower building, while the remaining attendees split up by state into lobby groups. Our Virginia team included Alex (National Resources Defense Council), Caroline (Oceana), Terra (Mom’s Clean Air Force), Eileen (Virginia Sierra Club), Laura, Wendy and myself.  Throughout the day we met with staff members representing Senators Kaine and Warner, and Representatives Connolly and Wittman. We had informative conversations with all the offices, and asked those who had shown support for offshore drilling in the past to reconsider their position, while urging champion legislators to call President Obama and request, at a minimum, that Virginia be excluded from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) proposal.

I’m so glad I was able to be a part of this summit!  Oceana did an amazing job putting this two-day event together.  They brought powerful voices from across the east coast dedicated to removing the Atlantic from the discussion of offshore drilling, and we were definitely heard in Washington.

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