Reprieve for the Arctic Ocean

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Obama to announce suspension of Arctic drilling

(05/27/2010) -

Summary:

  • President Obama is expected to announce today that offshore oil drilling in the Arctic will be postponed for one year, and planned lease sales off the coast of Virginia and in the western Gulf of Mexico have been cancelled.
  • New deepwater offshore permits will reportedly be put on hold for six months.
  • However, shallow water permits will reportedly be allowed to proceed.

WASHINGTON (May 27, 2010) – The following is a statement from Defenders of Wildlife executive vice president Jamie Rappaport Clark:

"Safeguarding the Arctic Ocean for another year from dirty, damaging oil drilling is absolutely the right thing to do. We thank President Obama and Interior Secretary Salazar for their leadership and for taking this important step. Any spill in the Arctic would have devastating consequences for the region's fragile wildlife and ecosystems, and there is no technology in existence that could clean up a spill in the area's broken sea ice and frigid waters. We're relieved that Arctic drilling will not go forward this summer, and we hope that ultimately these leases will be permanently cancelled.

"Much more remains to be done, however. In particular, the practice of categorically excluding offshore oil and gas activities from meaningful environmental review must be ended. The tragedy unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico is a reminder that offshore oil drilling is never safe for the environment or for the communities along our coasts. Oil in the water is dangerous for fisheries, wildlife and ecosystems no matter the depth of the water. It's good news that President Obama is extending a moratorium on new deepwater permits for six months. Hopefully, his review of the Gulf oil disaster will lead to a permanent moratorium on new offshore drilling anywhere along our coasts. America's coastal communities, human and natural, are far too precious to risk the devastation we're now seeing as a result of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. Moreover, as the President recognized in his remarks in California yesterday, the disaster in the Gulf is a wake-up call to the nation that it is time to move away from continued reliance on dirty, polluting fossil fuels and to move toward responsible development of clean, renewable energy.

"We remain convinced that a renewed presidential moratorium on new offshore drilling, including the Arctic and all other sensitive American waters, is the right next step. And in light of recent revelations about MMS and the short shrift that agency has given to environmental reviews and the potential for catastrophic accidents, clearly all existing leases should undergo a comprehensive review in light of these changed circumstances to insure that accidents like the Deepwater Horizon, and the heartbreaking impacts we're seeing in the Gulf, never happen again."

Learn about how Defenders is working to halt offshore drilling in the U.S.

See how Defenders is responding to the Gulf oil disaster.

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Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org.

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Contact(s):

Cat Lazaroff, (202) 772-3270
Caitlin Leutwiler, (202) 772-3226

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