Quantcast

Offshore Oil Plan a Disaster for Wildlife and Climate

Energy

Center for Biological Diversity

The Obama administration announced plans Nov. 8 to expand offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and offer additional lease sales in the sensitive waters off Alaska. Ramping up offshore drilling raises the risk of disastrous spills, puts wildlife in harm’s way and deepens U.S. dependence on the fossil fuels driving the global climate crisis.

“Last year’s disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was supposed to be a wake-up call about the dangers of offshore drilling, but it looks like President Obama hit the snooze button and slept right through it,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We just can’t keep expanding offshore drilling and not expect to have more disastrous spills.”

The new five-year plan will set the stage for 15 lease sales in six offshore areas, including the Arctic’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas and portions of the Gulf of Mexico near areas where development has so far been off-limits.

The plan to lease more parts of the Gulf of Mexico for drilling follows a March 2011 report by the Department of the Interior that found most existing leases are inactive. The report showed that 70 percent of existing federal oil and gas offshore lease acres are inactive, with no production, exploration or development.

“Gulf of Mexico communities are still reeling from the impacts of last year’s oil spill, and now the president wants to put those same communities at risk again,” said Sakashita. “The administration’s claiming significant steps have been taken to make drilling safer, but in fact there’s been no fundamental reform that can keep the Gulf of Mexico or the Arctic safe from the next spill catastrophe.”

The plan proposes to sell leases in Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas, home to all of America’s polar bears. A U.S. Geological Survey report concluded that key scientific information is lacking for the development of oil and gas in Arctic offshore waters. Effective spill cleanup in this remote area is nonexistent. The Coast Guard’s top official, Commandant Robert Papp, told Congress that the federal government currently has zero spill response capability in the Arctic.

“Polar bears are already teetering at the brink of extinction. Policies that worsen climate change and raise the risk of disastrous oil spills in their habitat will push them over the edge,” said Sakashita.

For more information, click here.

—————

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 320,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers a press statement on the European Green Deal at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on Dec. 11, 2019. Xinhua / Zheng Huansong via Getty Images

The European Commission introduced a plan to overhaul the bloc's economy to more sustainable, climate-conscious policies and infrastructure, with the goal of being carbon-neutral by 2050, according to CNBC.

Read More Show Less
Young activists shout slogans on stage after Greta Thunberg (not in the picture) took part in the plenary session during the COP25 Climate Conference on Dec. 11 in Madrid, Spain. Pablo Blazquez Dominguez / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Young activists took over and occupied the main stage at the COP25 climate conference in Madrid, Spain Wednesday and demanded world leaders commit to far more ambitious action to address the ecological emergency.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A NASA image showing the ozone hole at its maximum extent for 2015. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The Montreal Protocol, a 1987 international treaty prohibiting the production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to save the ozone layer, was the first successful multilateral agreement to successfully slow the rate of global warming, according to new research. Now, experts argue that similar measures may lend hope to the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
Example of starlings murmuration pictured in Scotland. Tanya Hart / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Police in Wales are in the midst of an unusual investigation: the sudden death of more than 200 starlings.

Read More Show Less
Donald Trump Jr. killed an argali sheep like this one on a hunting trip in Mongolia. powerofforever/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

During a hunting trip in Mongolia this August, Donald Trump Jr. shot and killed an endangered argali sheep, and received a permit only after the fact.

Read More Show Less