Today, the Obama administration announced that there will be no new offshore oil drilling in federal waters in the Pacific, Atlantic and Eastern Gulf for the next seven years.
This is a major victory for all those who have fought hard (see NTA partner list) to prevent new offshore drilling since the federal and executive moratoriums were not renewed in the fall of 2008.
Until today, the last 2 years have been full of bad news.
At the 11th hour the Bush administration proposed opening all coasts to drilling.
Despite massive opposition and no real evidence domestic drilling would help solve our energy crisis, in March 2010 the Obama administration proposed open vast tracts of ocean to offshore drilling.
We all know what followed… the largest offshore oil spill in world history.
Thankfully, Salazar and Obama seemed to have learned from the Gulf oil spill, listened to the science, and the continued public opposition to new offshore drilling and have decided that there will be no new offshore drilling lease tracts opened in the Pacific, Atlantic and eastern Gulf for the next 7 years.
Although this is great news and a major step towards protecting out coasts from the threats of offshore drilling, some really critical issues remain. This recent announcement potentially opens the Atlantic to harmful seismic testing and allows for new drilling in Alaska. Further, we cannot forget that hundreds of Gulf Shore communities continue to struggle to recover from this nation’s most devastating environmental disaster.
Read the Department of Interior’s press release and supporting documents here
Read an ABC news story here.
Just in case you didn’t feel that MMS was too cozy with the oil drilling industry, their Alaska office removed all doubt. See apology below after NY Times reported on MMS office celebrating the recent finds about their office lacking appropriate environmental standards in review proposed oil drilling efforts in the Arctic with a cake decorated with “Drill, Baby, Drill” on it.
From: Goll, John
Sent: Thursday, May 20, 2010 7:53 AM
To: MMS Employees Nationwide
Subject: Apology to MMS
As the manager in charge of the Alaska Region, I apologize to
everyone in the Minerals Management Service with regard to the cake
at a recent Alaska Region All Hands meeting, as reported in a New
York Times article today. The cake had the words “Drill, Baby,
Drill’, plus other words which were meant to take light of the words.
This was simply wrong to have. I failed in preventing this from
happening in my office.
Regional Director, Alaska
U.S. Minerals Management Service
3801 Centerpoint Drive, Suite 500
Anchorage, AK 99503
This week Interior Secretary Ken Salazar unveiled a plan to separate MMS into three agencies because the energy development, enforcement and revenue collecting functions have conflicting missions and must be separated. Lack of oversight on safety devices and procedures are partly to blame for the BP blow out.
Opponents of offshore drilling – including some dressed as salmon and a polar bear – delivered more than 250,000 postcards and letters to the Interior Department Monday on a proposal to open vast waters off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts to oil and gas drilling.
Read more in the Washington Post.
The final total was actually 280,000 comments on the new 5-year lease and made it clear that new offshore drilling is not the answer.