Oceana and Other Conservation Groups Urge President-Elect Obama and the 111th Congress to Restore Offshore Drilling Prohibitions | Oceana

Oceana and Other Conservation Groups Urge President-Elect Obama and the 111th Congress to Restore Offshore Drilling Prohibitions

Press Release Date: September 30, 2009

Location: Washington, DC


Anna Baxter | email: abaxter@oceana.org
Anna Baxter

Oceana, along with a diverse coalition of conservation organizations, called on President-elect Obama and the 111th United States Congress today to act quickly to establish a rational policy to protect our oceans and coasts from the impacts of offshore oil and gas drilling. Specifically, during the first 100 days, the new Administration and Congress should take the following steps to put America on course toward a new energy economy:

  • Reinstate the moratoria on offshore drilling in U.S. waters on the Outer Continental Shelf, including sensitive ecosystems such as Bristol Bay, Alaska, while also providing for the National Academy of Sciences to assess current environmental baseline information and the impacts of leasing, exploration, and development on ocean ecosystems.
  • Begin the development of a comprehensive conservation and energy plan for the Arctic that provides a bridge from oil to renewable energy and conservation. The plan should include a comprehensive scientific assessment of the health, biodiversity and functioning of Arctic ecosystems, as well as the benefits and consequences of specific industrial activities. A precautionary, science-based approach must be applied to all oil and gas leasing, exploration and development activities in Arctic waters to determine if those activities should be conducted and if so, when, where and how.

The coalition emphasized that oil drilling poses major long-term risks to sensitive ocean ecosystems, especially in the Arctic region. Their statement also explained that expanded oil production will worsen the effects of climate change, which already threatens low lying coastal areas, coral reefs and the sensitive Arctic ecosystem. Instead, the coalition argues that America needs to move away from fossil fuel based energy and end our dependence on oil, instead shifting to renewable energy sources that are carbon-free, such as wind and solar power. In addition, members urged new policy makers to find more ways to increase energy efficiency and conservation.

“Offshore drilling threatens ocean wildlife, contributes to climate change and does not provide any relief from high fuel prices, so we need to reinstate the moratorium on offshore oil development as soon as possible,” said Jacqueline Savitz, Senior Campaign Director for Oceana. “The moratorium made sense for the past 26 years and it makes even more sense now. Americans want a clean energy economy, not more oil spills and industrialized beachfront communities,” she added.

“The Arctic ocean is a unique place that warrants separate and distinct consideration prior to industrial activities. Ongoing industrial activities in the Arctic ocean must be stopped while a science-based, precautionary approach is implemented,” said Jim Ayers, Vice President, Oceana.

Oceana is a global ocean conservation group based in Washington, D.C. that works to restore and protect the world’s oceans. It has staff working in the Arctic region, including the cities of Juneau and Kotzebue, AK.