Center director featured as speaker at TEDx event hosted by Creative Coast at the Jepson Center in Savannah
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Creative Coast, a non-profit organization promoting the cultivation of creative ideas and their application in coastal Georgia, hosted its ninth annual program of public speakers today in Savannah. The Executive Director of the Center for a Sustainable Coast, David Kyler, spoke on the topic of “Tough choices, shifting realities, and the future of our coast.”

He made it clear that there is no longer any public interest that can justify coastal Georgia’s exposure to risks from contaminating and environmentally damaging fossil-fuel projects. Kyler told the audience of several hundred people at Savannah’s Jepson Center that they need to get involved and to speak out to protect coastal Georgia’s quality of life, which is vitally dependent on healthy, unpolluted natural resources.

Fossil fuels are now being produced by the U.S. in such abundance that for the past three years our nation was the world’s largest source of these fuels. Kyler explained that by the end of 2014, the U.S. was exporting about 5 million barrels of petroleum products a day, or over 200 million gallons daily.

“Under these conditions,” he said, “when we obviously have no domestic need for these fuels, it can no longer be claimed that producing them is in the public interest. To the contrary, as the U.S. Department of Defense reported to the Whitehouse over ten years ago, the climate damage being done by burning these fuels is a major threat to national security.”

“How can we possibly rationalize at least $10 billion in fossil fuel government subsidies annually under these circumstances?” Kyler asked. “We must address and resolve this profound conflict in U.S. policy. The only possible motivation for producing more fossil fuels in the U.S. is to make private-sector profits by exporting these fuels to foreign markets – which I do not believe has anything to do with the interest of our citizens. Considering climate change threats, the opposite is true,” he emphasized

Fossil fuel projects are of special concern in coastal Georgia at this time due to two unprecedented proposals, Kyler explained. They include the proposed Palmetto Pipeline, now under review by the Georgia Department of Transportation, and proposed offshore leasing for oil and gas development, presently being evaluated by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. “One accident from either of these activities, as evidenced by the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf, could devastate our environment and our nature-based economy,” he declared. Such a catastrophe is only a matter of time if either of these projects are allowed, according to Kyler.

He also highlighted the impressive growth in renewable, clean-energy technology such as solar, wind, and tidal power. “According to online sources, the use of residential solar panels has been doubling every two years for nearly a decade, mainly due to lower cost and rising demand,” Kyler noted. “Instead of subsidizing fossil fuels, our government should be boosting the rate of conversion to these clean sources power,” he added.

In closing, Kyler urged the audience to (1) demand the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies and other policy preferences for these fuels, (2) oppose both the pipeline and offshore drilling, and (3) stay involved in these issues. “Unless you exercise your rights, indeed you obligations, as citizens of Georgia and of the United States, we will suffer the loss of resources and a quality of life that are of great value. This work cannot be delegated – we each must accept responsibility.”

Kyler was selected as a guest speaker for the TEDx series from among 80 applicants, according to Creative Coast staff.

David Kyler is executive director of the Center for a Sustainable Coast.
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