Shell Game?

"I think it’s fantastic that we, the citizens, have the opportunity to speak directly to you."

That was Surfrider North East Director, John Weber’s opening statement to Department of Interior Ken Salazar at this morning’s public hearing. And it was clear that Salazar was just as keen to talk to 'we, the citizens.' But while he insisted the Offshore {{{Continental}}} Shelf will be part of a 'comprehensive energy plan,' he repeatedly used that opportunity to discuss the potential for developing wind energy off the Atlantic coast.

Of course, the question now is: Will it stay there? Much of the energy behind removing the moratorium off the coast came from petroleum concerns. In fact, as I type this, several are taking their turn — from oil industry representatives to truckers. But it’s clear that there's a move by the DOI to seek offshore wind as an option. And not just the Feds, but various states, including Massachusetts, Maine and New York are all expressing the need to expediently move in that direction. Furthermore, Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia asked for his state — whose MMS {{{lease}}} began before the extended 180-day period of continued comment and investigation — to be now included in the current six-month process.

But no state so far has been so valiant in the fight to stop rigs from going up on our coast than the home state of New Jersey. Governor Jon Corzine began by saying, "Frankly, offshore drilling is something we don’t have an appetite for." New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez commented: "The risks are greater, the rewards are less," "the ocean doesn’t come in neat little boxes" and that "clean beaches are birthright."

But leave it to long time Jersey steward and Congressman Frank Pallone to take the hardest line stance, asking for the moratorium to simply be re-instated without any further study. Does that mean he’s anti-energy? Hardly.

"We’re behind wind power — that’s the way to go," he said.

Which is one argument you don’t need to make to surfers. After all, that transfer of energy is what we ride every day.

*Stay tuned in the coming days for a full follow-up report on the AC hearing and the impending San Francisco meetings on April 16th.