HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. - Vipe Desai loves being on the water.
“Water is medicine," said Desai. "It’s got so much power to heal and relax people.”
The CEO and founder of HDX Mix – a powdered energy drink designed to help reduce single use plastic bottles – has surfboards in his office and often finds time to pop out for a quick paddle around Huntington Harbor.
“It helps me to connect to the ocean on a daily basis," said Desai. "And reminds me that this is something that’s worth protecting.”
One look at the horizon reminds him what he’s protecting it from.
“There’s one right off the coast here," he said, pointing to an offshore oil rig.
Sure, he can rattle off what he says are the many environmental risks associated with a potential oil spill, but when he was invited to address members of Congress, he focused on something else. He spent much of his five minutes of floor time speaking about the ocean's impact on the economy.
“I came with a message that our oceans are important to our local, state, and national, and even international economy, and that clean oceans and healthy beaches are important to our businesses," he said.
Desai is a founding member of the Business Alliance for Protecting the Pacific Coast -- or BAPPC for short. The alliance has roughly 2400 members, many of whom have contacted Desai since his appearances.
“Good luck with the fight against offshore drilling," reads one email.
But he wasn’t just speaking on behalf of BAPAC. He says he was representing businesses on both coasts and in the Gulf – 46,000 of them – many like those you’ll find on Main Street in Seal Beach.
“These are small mom and pop businesses," he said, driving past independently owned shops and restaurants. "They need a healthy ocean, they need clean beaches.”
Because those bring tourists, tourists who won’t come if there’s an oil spill.
Desai says he isn’t trying to vilify the oil industry. He just wants to see policymakers put the ocean first and move away from fossil fuel.
“We just don’t need to drill," he insists. "It’s not necessary. The businesses are moving away from it. Consumers are moving away from it. It’s harmful to our environment."
And he says we shouldn’t have to choose between protecting our oceans and our economy.
“In this day and age, we can do both and we should be working towards that.”