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Obama plan to lift moratorium, resume deepwater Gulf drilling is misguided, reckless

The Obama administration’s plan to allow oil companies to resume deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is misguided and reckless.

We still have no way to address a catastrophic blowout in deep water, either by stemming the flow of oil or fixing the broken blowout preventer. Without technology in hand to stop millions of gallons of oil from spewing from the bottom of the ocean, we are simply gambling with our environment. We can’t afford to count on luck to keep the oceans, beaches and tourism industries safe.

It is laudable that the administration has reformed safety rules in the wake of the BP disaster, but accidents and mistakes still happen. The BP disaster claimed 11 lives, dumped millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf – doing untold damage – and soiled beaches in five states. We cannot afford to risk a repeat. We have no way of stopping another BP gusher.

Further, the current deepwater ban affects only about two dozen drilling rigs, leaving plenty of opportunities for shallow drilling on the Continental Shelf. Oil prices have not gone up significantly, proving that continuing the deepwater ban does not inhibit our access to energy supplies and hasn’t created problems for consumers. But it does keep us and the environment safe from another accident.

A continued focus on federal investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy is the best path forward for our energy future and for creating clean, sustainable jobs.

We urge the president to reconsider his decision and act in the interests of the environment, oil rig workers and people of the Gulf – not the oil industry.

Tyson Slocum is the director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program.