For Immediate Release, October 23, 2010
Contact: Miyoko Sakashita, (415) 658-5308
Lawsuit Seeks Renewed Moratorium on Deepwater Oil Drilling,
Demands Environmental Review
WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity filed suit Friday against Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for concluding that oil drilling poses no possible risk of significant environmental effects. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., seeks reinstatement of the recently lifted moratorium on deepwater drilling until the Interior Department conducts a comprehensive analysis of its risks to wildlife and the environment. Meanwhile, the Interior Department announced that it is considering its first deepwater drilling permit since lifting the moratorium.
“It is astonishing that despite the BP spill’s overwhelming toll on the Gulf of Mexico and its wildlife, Secretary Salazar lifted the moratorium by concluding there are no significant environmental effects from drilling,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director of the Center. “Salazar is repeating the same tragic mistakes that led to the massive spill in the Gulf by discounting the risks of drilling for oil thousands of feet underwater.”
The BP spill has shown indisputably that oil drilling can, and does, have significant impacts. The Deepwater Horizon tragedy killed 11 people and spilled more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Since the spill began, more than 6,000 oiled birds and hundreds of dead sea turtles and marine mammals have been collected.
“We can no longer afford to have our government simply taking the oil industry at its word when it comes to ensuring the safety of people and the environment. Offshore drilling is a dangerous business, and Salazar’s Interior Department needs to take that threat seriously,” said Sakashita.
In lifting the moratorium, Salazar produced an environmental assessment, finding that there is no possibility of significant environmental effects from drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The suspended drilling activities, which may now resume, evaded environmental review just like the BP exploration plan. Although there are some new safety rules in place, the environmental analysis required to protect the Gulf’s wildlife and habitat is still absent. The lawsuit seeks enforcement of the National Environmental Policy Act, specifically by ensuring that Salazar prepare an environmental impact statement.
Learn more about the Center’s efforts to end offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.