Last week Surfrider Foundation volunteers and staff from across the country, including 2 from Oregon, visited our nation’s capitol to help advocate for Surfrider’s 2016 Federal Priorities. Surfrider’s Environmental Director Pete Stauffer and Portland Chapter’s Joanna Malaczynski organized the DC Ocean Recreation Lobby Day event from Feb. 11-12, visiting with over 50 different congressional staff and lawmakers. The event was a huge success, bringing together Surfrider’s finest volunteers and leaders to support federal policies that protect our oceans, waves and beaches.

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A surfer dressed in a suit and toting a Firewire Surfboard isn’t something you see in our nation’s Capitol each day, but last week it was a reality, and well it should be. The surfboard carried an important message, signed by hundreds of business and community leaders opposed to offshore oil drilling along the Atlantic, we’re asking White House Officials to protect our coastal economies from this continued threat to our oceans and beaches. New offshore oil drilling projects are not the answer and as the threat to expand Atlantic drilling continues, even our fine Congressional delegates from Oregon had to join in on the surfboard signing.

Senator Jeff Merkley signs on to surfboard opposing Atlantic drilling

Senator Jeff Merkley signs on to surfboard opposing Atlantic drilling

While the surfboard was a key piece in our outreach for Surfrider’s Protect the Atlantic campaign, volunteers were also in DC for timely advocacy on federal beach water quality monitoring, which was recently cut again from the EPA’s BEACH Act budget. Oregon and many other states depend on this funding for state beach monitoring programs and without it, the monitoring in Oregon would simply just go away. The meetings with congressional leaders and the Obama administration also included support for the National Ocean Policy and addressing plastic pollution in our oceans and waterways.

Senator Jeff Merkley’s commitment to curb fossil fuels extraction and greenhouse gases is clear, “Keep it in the Ground!” We support and applaud the Senator’s leadership on this issue, especially as it relates to some priority fossil fuel issues currently facing the state of Oregon and Washington. With Tesoro Savage knocking on the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean’s door and a number of other fossil fuel export facilities proposed along our coast in Oregon, we may have as much concern as those along the Atlantic have in the offshore oil plight.