For Immediate Release, April 20, 2011
Contact: Kierán Suckling, (520) 275-5960
One Year After Gulf Disaster: Reforms Left Unaddressed, New Offshore Drilling Must Be Halted
TUCSON, Ariz.— A year after the Deepwater Horizon explosion launched the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, the Center for Biological Diversity today called for an end to all new offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the Arctic and beyond because fundamental dangers have not been addressed.
“Despite some tough talk from the Obama administration, precious little has actually been done to make offshore drilling any safer than it was the day BP’s well started leaking out of control,” said Kierán Suckling, the Center’s executive director. “Meanwhile, oiled wildlife are still washing up dead in the Gulf of Mexico, and the Obama administration is approving new drilling applications.”
More than 200 million gallons of oil and other toxic chemicals spewed into the Gulf last year, a region already beset by the effects of industrialized drilling operations and pollution draining out of the Mississippi River. Scientists have yet to fully comprehend the scope of the damage to the region’s complex and fragile ecosystems.
“We simply can’t allow new offshore drilling when the old system, which set the stage for the BP disaster, remains largely intact,” Suckling said. “That’s asking for another environmental catastrophe, not preventing one.”
The Center recently released a report estimating the true toll of the spill on wildlife in the Gulf, beyond simply the number of animals collected and tallied by the government. Using multipliers from leading scientists, the Center estimates that about 6,000 sea turtles, 26,000 dolphins and whales, and 82,000 birds were likely harmed by the spill.
“Like the Exxon Valdez and other spills before it, the BP spill will poison the Gulf for decades to come,” said Suckling. “Unfortunately, policymakers and the oil industry seem completely unwilling to do what’s needed to make sure a similar disaster never happens again.”
The Center last week released an analysis of the 10 key reforms that have gone unaddressed in the wake of the Gulf crisis. They include closing the loophole that has allowed hundreds of offshore projects to escape a full environmental review, complying with the Endangered Species Act and other laws designed to protect vulnerable wildlife, and halting any plans for offshore drilling in the Arctic, where an oil spill would devastate ecosystems and be nearly impossible to clean up.
The Center launched nine lawsuits in the wake of the spill, including a pending $19 billion suit against BP and Transocean for violations of the Clean Water Act. Earlier this week, a notice of intent was filed against the Environmental Protection Agency for approving oil dispersants without studying their effects on sea turtles, sperm whales and other endangered species. The Center has also petitioned for Endangered Species Act protections for two oil-affected species in the Gulf: the Atlantic bluefin tuna and the dwarf seahorse.