Beyond Offshore Oil Drilling
The massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico demonstrated that the risks of expanded offshore drilling are far greater than the rewards. Drilling technology is not reliable, and as BP has demonstrated, Big Oil does NOT have the capability to quickly shut down spills when they occur. Despite the massive wake up call Deepwater Horizon should have provided, the push to expand offshore drilling is continuing.
On August 4, 2011, a year and a half after the catastrophic Gulf spill, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement granted conditional approval for Shell to drill four exploratory wells in the Arctic Beaufort Sea, home to fragile marine ecosystems. The USGS asserts that little is known about these delicate Arctic ecosystems or about the impact drilling might have. Additionally, Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp recently told Congress that the United States currently has “zero” response capabilities in the Beaufort area, making any potential spill a logistical and environmental nightmare. In response to BOEMRE’s ruling, a coalition of eleven environmental groups have filed suit in the Ninth Circuit Court to block the drilling.
On November 9th, 2011, the Obama administration announced a five-year Offshore Oil Drilling Plan that Secretary Salazar’s Interior Department says takes the “middle road.” This “middle road” calls for ten lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and two in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas in 2015.
Ocean Champions is proud to have helped elect many of those in Congress who lead the fight against offshore drilling and for renewable energy. Senators Boxer, Cantwell, Nelson and Lautenberg, and Representatives Capps, Castor, Garamendi, Holt, Markey, and Pallone have all introduced legislation to ban new drilling or to improve Big Oil accountability. Many of our other champions have also cosponsored and supported these bills. We will continue to work with our champions to prevent offshore drilling in new areas and to support development of clean energy.
These two wildlife rescue organizations are playing a big role in the Gulf response and can use additional support: