August 17, 2018.  The Pines Conservation Society (PCS) is extremely concerned about proposals to allow oil drilling in the waters off Fire Island. The methods and processes used in offshore drilling threaten the very mission on which our organization is built: preservation of the natural environment for future generations. We wholeheartedly extend our support to those organizations and individuals committed to opposing such proposals and invite our friends and neighbors to join us in our opposition.

PCS determined the threat to the environment far outweighs any benefit that can possibly be derived from drilling. Below are a few of the points we considered in taking this position (in no particular order):

  1. To locate oil beds under the ocean floor, sonic cannons are used to create sound waves that penetrate the ocean floor. These loud blasts of sound are super powerful and can shatter the ear bones of marine animals, including whales and dolphins. This has been linked to whale deaths and mass stranding as the damage to earbones is painful and extremely disorienting. The inner ear canals are responsible for maintaining balance. If damaged, swimming is nearly impossible putting animals completely at risk. Some regulations exist to protect vulnerable species, but there is no existing technology that can effectively scan the entire water column over large spans of ocean to ensure that the "area" is clear. Such regulations are ineffective, unenforceable and provides little protection for marine life.
  2. Leakage and spills cause oil slicks that harm marine life and put the coastline at risk. Both Exxon Valdez and Horizon/BP oil spills did incalculable damage to the environment. The same could happen on the beaches of Fire Island and Long Island. Not only would such an event shut down our community, as no one would want to vacation on oil soaked beaches, it would decimate any economy (fishing, water recreation, etc) that is reliant upon a healthy marine environment. Spills are rare; but leakage is not. Oil wells ooze constantly. In fact, every year more oil leaks into the oceans than from spills. Leaks get less media attention, but they still result in harm to the oceans, it's organisms and the environment.
  3. Burning fossil fuels contributes to already excessive amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere causing anthropogenic climate change AND ocean acidification.      -Climate Change is causing sea levels to rise as the planet's temperatures reach all-time highs. Additionally, the Deepwater Conveyor System is driven by heavy brine produced by formation of polar ice. As global temperatures rise, this ice formation slows, causing global currents to slow. Even equatorial currents will move more slowly, absorbing more energy from the equatorial sun. The resulting warm ocean water further nourishes more powerful storms and hurricanes.     -Ocean Acidification continues to worsen as higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are absorbed by ocean water. This process is detrimental to marine organisms who possess calcium-based shells or skeletons including corals, crustaceans, mollusks and a countless number of microorganisms.

We eagerly join the Fire Island Property Association (FIPPOA) and the greater Fire Island Association (FIA) in this cause and echo their March 2, 2018, denouncement of this proposal in a letter to Ryne Zinke, Secretary of the Department of Interior. Read the letter HERE .

On behalf of the Pines Conservation Society,

Scott Ahlborn
President / Pines Conservation Society


Vincent Cericola
Pines Conservation Society Board Member
Commack High School Marine Biology Environmental Steward