The April 20 explosion at a BP exploratory drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico – spewing as many as 210,000 gallons of crude oil each day – is fast becoming the worst oil spill disaster in U.S. history.
On March 31, President Barack Obama announced a plan to open to drilling 167 million acres of East Coast waters and other protected areas in the northern waters of Alaska. While drumming up support for his expansion plan, Obama said, “Oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills. They are technologically very advanced.”
We see now that the technology failed. In fact, while you read this, response teams are still working to stop the leak and keep up with the ever-expanding oil slick, which now spans more than 100 miles and threatens coastal areas of three states. More than 400 species of wildlife are at risk. And people who make their living from fishing and tourism face economic ruin.
This catastrophe shows why we should do less – not more – offshore oil drilling. It is high time for Obama to reinstate the ban on the expansion of offshore drilling.
The disaster in the Gulf of Mexico seriously challenges the administration’s claims that offshore oil and gas development is safe. Obama claimed that expanding drilling will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but now we see that domestic fossil fuel production threatens our workers, economy and environment too, reinforcing the urgent need to move not just away from foreign oil but away from all dirty and dangerous fuel sources and toward clean renewable sources and robust efficiency standards.
In 2008, Congress allowed a 27-year-old ban on offshore drilling to expire. The ban –enacted after the Exxon Valdez spill – was intended to protect our coastal wildlife and the communities that depend on them for their livelihood. If nothing else, the current disaster makes clear the urgent need to reinstate this ban.
Please help avert future environmental calamities: Urge Obama to reinstate an immediate ban on the expansion of offshore drilling.
Allison Fisher is the Energy Organizer for Public Citizen
Flickr photo by Arenamontanus