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For Immediate Release

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Taran Volckhausen, Communications Associate, tvolckhausen@publicinterestnetwork.org 
Mark Morgenstein, Director of Media Relations, markm@publicinterestnetwork.org

Press Release

World Oceans Day 2021: Statement, Resources and Interview Opportunities

WASHINGTON -
Over the past year, the political backdrop surrounding World Oceans Day celebrations in the United States has undergone significant changes. While the focus for activists and environmental organizations last year had centered on countering threats posed by offshore drilling plans, the narrative has shifted this year: Conservationists are now pursuing new opportunities to vastly expand the scope of ocean protections. 

At the heart of this change is a wave of policy shifts and new conservation targets set by the Biden administration. The Trump administration had wanted to open 90 percent of U.S. coasts to offshore drilling. While that plan was never realized, the Biden administration has moved in the opposite direction, issuing a moratorium on new oil and gas leases while assessing the costs of drilling to the climate and environment. Perhaps even more sweeping, the Biden administration has proposed conserving 30 percent of U.S. waters and lands by 2030.

“Giving whales, sea turtles, otters and all marine life a foothold on survival requires that we stop drilling and start protecting more of our oceans from all destructive activities,” said Steve Blackledge, senior director of Environment America’s conservation program. “Thankfully, the Biden administration, with it’s 30-by-30 statements and moratorium on new drilling, has focused on protecting the deep blue.” 

Many states, too, have dived into ocean conservation. Much of the state work has focused on eliminating single-use plastic waste from the environment. In the past year, New Jersey and Virginia have enacted new laws that ban single-use foam and other harmful, unnecessary plastic products. Additionally, Environment America and state partner groups have called on Whole Foods and parent company Amazon to stop lagging and start leading once again on plastic waste reduction efforts. 

Ocean conservation efforts can help threatened species rebound. From the North Atlantic right whale to the Southern resident orca, many species are in need of greater habitat protections. 

“We should use World Oceans Day as an opportunity to focus our attention on the plummeting populations of right whales, orcas in the Puget Sound, and other threatened marine species. We simply can’t let these majestic sea animals disappear on our watch,” said Blackledge.

Media resources on ocean conservation: 

Report on marine protected areas: New Life for the Ocean, a February 2021 report and digital “underwater hike,” demonstrated the value and effectiveness of marine protected areas (MPAs). From our release: “The stories in this report all point to one crucial conclusion:  When we act to preserve key ocean habitats, marine wildlife can get a foothold on survival.” 
Report on offshore drilling: Offshore Drilling, Onshore Damage: Broken pipelines, dirty refineries and the pollution impacts of energy infrastructure report uncovered how onshore industrial infrastructure created for offshore drilling can harm marine environments in a variety of ways.  From our release: “Drilling off our coast may seem far away from homes and businesses, but the onshore infrastructure necessary to drill for dirty fossil fuels creates a pressing threat to the health of both Americans and our ecosystems.”
The following experts are available to interview either over the phone or on camera:
National Perspectives: 
Kelsey Lamp, klamp@environmentamerica.org, is the Protect Our Oceans campaign director for Environment America. She is the coauthor of New Life for the Ocean, a case study on the effectiveness of marine protected areas. See this Mongabay guest piece by Kelsey for more. 
Steve Blackledge, sblackledge@environmentamerica.org, is the senior director of Environment America’s conservation program. He directs Environment America’s efforts to protect our public lands and waters and the species that depend on them.
State Perspectives: 
New Jersey: Doug O’Malley, domalley@environmentnewjersey.org, is the state director for Environment America’s affiliate Environment New Jersey. Doug was a key architect of the state’s recent plastic law, which is the strongest in the nation. 
Massachusetts: Ben Hellerstein, ben@environmentmassachusetts.org, is the state director for Environment America’s affiliate Environment Massachusetts. He has worked to restore protections to the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument and to protect the North Atlantic right whales.
Maine: Anya Fetcher, afetcher@environmentmaine.org, is the state director for Environment America’s affiliate Environment Maine. She has worked to protect North Atlantic right whales and has organized local art shows on their behalf.
Georgia: Jennette Gayer, jennette@environmentgeorgia.org, is the state director for Environment America’s affiliate Environment Georgia. She helped convince the Georgia House of Representatives to adopt a resolution in opposition to offshore drilling. 
North Carolina: Drew Ball, dball@environmentnorthcarolina.org, is the state director for Environment America’s affiliate Environment North Carolina. During Hurricane Florence, Drew provided interviews and information to several national and local media. Drew has been quoted widely both on-camera and in print articles. 
Virginia: Elly Boehmer, eboehmer@environmentvirginia.org, is the state director for Environment America’s affiliate Environment Virginia. Recently, Elly has led the campaign in Virginia to enact new laws to eliminate single-use foam containers, which pollute oceans and harm wildlife. 
Oregon: Celeste Meiffren-Swango, celeste@environmentoregon.org, is the state director for Environment America’s affiliate Environment Oregon. She is running a campaign to bring the sea otters back to Oregon’s coast. 
Washington: Pam Clough, pclough@environmentwashington.org, is the state director for Environment America’s affiliate Environment Washington. She is focused on saving Southern Resident orcas, which number only about 75 in total. 
California: Laura Deehan, ldeehan@environmentcalifornia.org, is the state director for Environment America’s affiliate Environment California. She helped organize Oceans Day California, and is working to create a new sanctuary, the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary, off the coast of California, north of Santa Barbara. 
 

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With Environment America, you protect the places that all of us love and promote core environmental values, such as clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and clean energy to power our lives. We’re a national network of 29 state environmental groups with members and supporters in every state. Together, we focus on timely, targeted action that wins tangible improvements in the quality of our environment and our lives.

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