WASHINGTON (January 27, 2015) --- The Obama Administration proposed a five-year offshore drilling lease plan today that would expose much of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans to oil and gas production. The Natural Resources Defense Council’s Executive Director Peter Lehner made the following statement:
“This takes us in exactly the wrong direction. It would expose the Eastern Seaboard, much of the Atlantic and most of the Arctic to the hazards of offshore drilling. It ignores the lessons of the disastrous BP blowout, the growing dangers of climate change and the promise of a clean energy future
“This plan would lock in large amounts of future carbon pollution. It would put our oceans, beaches, wetlands and all they support at grave and needless risk, imperil coastal communities and economies, and anchor our future to the dirty fossil fuels of the past.
“In the Arctic, the administration recently took an important step, recognizing, for the first time, the need to protect especially rich marine habitat. Oil spills travel great distances, though, and respect no boundaries. That’s why protecting part of the Arctic Ocean means protecting all of it - for good. We don’t have the equipment or the know-how to prevent, contain or clean up a spill in Arctic waters. Exposing these waters to the risk of a blowout is a reckless gambit we can’t afford.
“This is a five-year program, but we’ll live with its consequences far longer. The administration needs to get this right.
"NRDC is still reviewing the details of the proposal. At a minimum, though, the Obama administration should recognize the following:
- “Atlantic and Arctic waters need to be taken completely off the table to oil and gas drilling. All offshore drilling is risky, but the worst thing we could do right now is open up new, never-spoiled, or long-closed areas to the risks this industry poses.
- “The administration has rightly set some limits on Atlantic and Arctic drilling. A major spill in either ocean, though, would put at risk adjacent coastal areas and coastlines far from the drill site. A Virginia blowout could readily impact New Jersey and points far north.
- “Offshore drilling is part of a larger fossil-fuel strategy that needs to reflect our obligation to protect future generations from the dangers of climate change and the specific damage this global scourge is doing to our oceans.
- “Offshore drilling for oil and gas needs to be evaluated in light of alternatives such as investing in efficiency, so we do more with less waste, the growing use of hybrid and all-electric cars, and the potential for powering them by getting more electricity from the wind and sun."