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For Immediate Release, July 12, 2010

Contact: Kierán Suckling, (520) 275-5960

Salazar's New Moratorium A Good Start For Protecting People, Environment
But Ignores Ongoing Dangers of Shallow-water Drilling

TUCSON, Ariz.— Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, issued this statement today in response to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s latest order for a moratorium on certain offshore oil and gas operations.

“We applaud Secretary Salazar’s new moratorium on risky deepwater drilling. The catastrophe in the Gulf has given us all a nightmarish education on just how dangerous offshore oil drilling is. The moratorium is essential to protecting the people, wildlife and beaches of the Gulf Coast.”

“However, we’re deeply disappointed that the secretary is still ignoring the very real dangers of shallow water drilling. The largest oil spill in the world last year was in shallow water as was the largest Gulf spill before the BP explosion. All offshore drilling — no matter the depth — is dangerous and should be suspended.”

A Minerals Management Service review of blowouts between 1992 and 2006 concluded that “most blowouts occurred during the drilling of wells in water depths of less than 500 ft.” The agency found one blowout per 362 wells drilled in 500 feet of water or less and just one blowout per 523 wells drilled in deeper waters. The same report also found that 56 percent of all blowouts — whether in deep or shallow waters — happened before the true vertical depth of the well bore depth reached 5,000 feet. The blowout in the Deepwater Horizon drill occurred at about 18,000 feet below sea level.

“The latest moratorium only goes halfway in protecting the people of the Gulf and its wildlife. Leaving these other rigs to continue business as usual ignores the terrible lessons we’ve been taught since April 20,” Suckling said.

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