Offshore Drilling Reform Bill Reported Out of Senate Committee
Press Release Date: June 30, 2010
Location: Washington, D.C.
Today, Senate bill 3516 was reported out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The bill makes changes to the management of offshore oil and gas leasing, exploration and development. The bill would also make some improvements, thanks in part to strengthening amendments offered by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). It does not, however, provide the fundamental reforms necessary to protect our oceans and prevent future oil spills. In addition to taking steps to fix deficiencies highlighted by the Gulf tragedy, Congress must protect important areas like the Arctic and prohibit new offshore drilling in those areas protected by Congress and the president for 25 years.
The Deepwater drilling disaster is possibly the worst environmental disaster in our country’s history. The massive plume of toxic oil is expected to inflict extensive, long-term damage to the coastlines of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. It is peak breeding, spawning and nesting season for many wildlife species in the Gulf of Mexico, including endangered species, such as whales, sea turtles, bluefin tuna and several bird species. Unfortunately, many of these creatures are washing up dead on shore. The full extent of damage will not be known for decades. We must be vigilant in our efforts to document and study the effects.
The disaster has brought to light significant problems with the management and oversight of our offshore resources. It has also highlighted the need for better science, response and rescue. Congress has a unique opportunity to put comprehensive protections in place for our oceans now. While it is important to pass legislation that toughens safety regulations and environmental protections for existing offshore drilling, it is crucial that we move toward comprehensive conservation and energy planning that protects important areas like the Arctic and prohibits new offshore drilling in those areas protected by previous moratoria.
“It is time to abandon the dirty fossil fuels that pollute our oceans and our air and move toward a clean energy future. This bill is a start; but there is much more work to do,” said Jacqueline Savitz, Oceana senior campaign director.