Our mission is to protect the habitat of Puget Sound tidelands from the underregulated expansion of new and intensive shellfish aquaculture methods. These methods were never anticipated when the Shoreline Management Act was passed. They are transforming the natural tideland ecosystems in Puget Sound and are resulting in a fractured shoreline habitat. In South Puget Sound much of this has been done with few if any meaningful shoreline permits and with limited public input. It is exactly what the Shoreline Management Act was intended to prevent.

Get involved and contact your elected officials to let them you do not support aquaculture's industrial transformation of Puget Sound's tidelands.

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Drakes Bay Oyster Tied Directly to the Expansion of Oil Drilling in Wilderness

Senator David Vitter
(R - La)

Doing a Vitter
If there was any question of whether the immense sum of money being spent in support for the renewal of Drakes Bay Oyster Company's lease was tied directly to expanding oil drilling in designated wilderness areas, it has been extinguished. Senator Vitter (R - La) has added to his "Energy Production and Project Delivery Act of 2013" (the Bill) a requirement that the Department of the Interior extend the lease for the Lunny family's commercial operation in a designated wilderness area for 10 years, with an additional 10 year extension after that. Adding insult to injury, it would also prevent Drakes Estero from becoming the wilderness shoreline area Congress intended when the Point Reyes Wilderness Act was passed in 1976.

 Section 310 of the Bill reads:
(1) the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Director of the National Park Service, shall--
(A) reinstate, for a period of not less than 10 years, the reservation of use and occupancy and special use permits to conduct commercial operations within Point Reyes National Seashore in the State of California held by Drakes Bay Oyster Company, which expired on November 30, 2012, subject to the terms and conditions contained in those permits, as in effect on November 29, 2012; and
(B) on receipt of a request from Drakes Bay Oyster Company (or a successor in interest), renew those reinstated permits for an additional 10-year period; and
(2) Drakes Estero in the State of California shall not be converted to a designated wilderness.

It's not about the Lunny's.
It can no longer be stated that the free legal support provided by the conservative Cause of Action, with ties to the oil and gas industry Koch brothers, is simply over concern of a "local small business" being "trampled" by big government. In fact, what is clear is the oil industry and Senator Vitter are simply using Mr. Lunny and his employees as pawns in their attempt to extend oil drilling into wilderness reserves intended to be protected from commercial development, oil drilling or otherwise.  While the shellfish industry may be concerned about the impacts from Mr. Lunny's operation shown to be occurring, they pale in comparison to the financial gain the oil industry sees.

Section 202 of the Bill reads:
(1) COMPATIBILITY- For purposes of the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd et seq.), the oil and gas leasing program and activities authorized by this section in the Coastal Plain are deemed to be compatible with the purposes for which the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was established, and no further findings or decisions are required to implement this determination.

How important is an oyster? For the oil industry, very.
In addition to Mr. Lunny being played, now being drawn into the game are restaurants and other shellfish companies being led to believe the closure of Drakes Bay Oyster Company will be an economic disaster. [see article here] Tomales Bay Oyster Co. claims it would be unable to meet increased demand (it doesn't mention whether it may consider raising its price as demand increases). Chef Alice Waters with Chez Panisse and Hayes Street Grill are concerned, the latter claiming its closure would have a "devastating impact" on its ability to serve fresh seafood (they do not mention what percentage of sales are from Drakes Bay oysters). It's all very chilling, but all very insignificant. Except to a few who stand to gain at the public's expense (e.g., Mr. Lunny paid little for his 7 years use of over 1,000 acres in Drakes Estero).

DBOC employees should not be played like pawns. Perhaps they and their families would like a job paying more than what shucking oysters all day pays.
Of all the pawns in the game being played, those being taken advantage of the most are the 30 employees and their families who were led to believe their jobs were not at risk. Despite Mr. Lunny having having been told numerous times over the last 7 years his lease would not be renewed in 2012 he continued to build false hopes in the employees, preventing them from seeking jobs or training elsewhere. Now, instead of expending time and money on helping find jobs in the area or in  retraining for a better job, those funds are being used to further the financial gains of others, especially attorneys but also including the oil industry and their political lobbyists.

A waste of time and money.
If Senator Vitter and the others are truly concerned about these 30 employees perhaps he could consider a bill authorizing funds for re-education and re-location. Or consider opening his little black book and calling his friends in the oil industry to ask if they have any openings.

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