Center for Biological Diversity

Gulf Spill Disaster - No New Offshore Oil Drilling!

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The April 20 explosion at a BP exploratory drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, 120 miles south of New Orleans, killed 11 workers and initiated what is becoming the worst oil spill disaster ever.  We must stop all new offshore oil drilling now.

Officials currently estimate that a million gallons of oil may be leaking per day from the broken BP rig, with no near-term fix in sight to stop the spilling oil.

Hundreds of imperiled species in the Gulf will be harmed by the toxic oil from loggerhead, green, hawksbill, and Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles to the Alabama beach mouse, Gulf sturgeon, Atlantic bluefin tuna, wood stork, and piping plover. Local communities dependent on the ocean for their livelihoods are already feeling the devastating impacts with no relief in site. The full extent of the damage won’t be known for some time, as the oil continues to gush and the response from industry and federal and state agencies appears largely ineffective to contain the ever-expanding spill.

Write President Obama today to reverse his March 31 decision to expand offshore oil drilling nationwide, and to enact a permanent ban on new offshore oil exploration and development. The massive oil spill from BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig must be a wake-up call that the current exploratory plan approval process is broken, the environmental impacts of an oil spill are disastrously high, and industry claims about the unlikeliness of a spill and the safety of their offshore drilling operations are simply untrue.

Further, President Obama's recent announcement to stop Shell Oil from drilling through the heart of polar bear critical habitat this summer -- where it is indescribably more difficult to deal with an oil spill -- is only temporary.  Urge him to permanently ban all oil and gas drilling in the fragile, melting Arctic environment.

Scroll down for more information on the Gulf oil spill and planned drilling in the Arctic.

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Please submit comments by September 30, 2010.

Deepwater Horizon rig photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard.

The technology used at the BP operation has been touted as the most advanced in the world, yet a safety valve that was supposed to shut off the flow of oil at the seabed in case of such an accident utterly failed to work. 

While additional remote safety devices to staunch the flow are available and required for oil projects off Norway and Brazil, they were not in use at the spill site because the Department of the Interior, the agency charged with offshore oil and gas regulation, declined to require their use after oil companies objected to the cost.

The Beaufort and Chukchi seas, home to polar bears, walrus, ice seals, and bowhead whales, contain some of the most remote, inaccessible, and sensitive habitat on the planet. And there is still simply no way to clean up oil in the broken-ice conditions that prevail in these areas for much of the year. In fact, the drilling season is so short in the Arctic -- July to early October -- that leaking oil from a similar accident there could continue to gush for an entire winter.

In approving Shell’s drilling plan for this summer, Secretary Salazar did not even consider the possibility of an oil spill. Instead, he simply echoed industry’s claim that the chance of such a spill is too remote to even warrant analysis, much less preventative measures.