New Offshore Drilling in U.S. Waters is Unnecessary to Achieve U.S. Energy Security and May Damage Job Creation and Marine Life
Press Release Date: March 31, 2010
Location: Washington, D.C.
In response to the Obama administration’s announcement on offshore drilling, ocean conservation group Oceana argues that expanding offshore drilling is the wrong direction for U.S. energy policy, given a worsening climate crisis caused by increased global emissions of carbon dioxide.
“We’re appalled that the President is unleashing a wholesale assault on the oceans. Expanding offshore drilling is the wrong move if the Obama administration is serious about improving energy security, creating lasting jobs and averting climate change,” said Oceana senior campaign director Jacqueline Savitz. “Instead, the U.S. should focus its resources on expanding offshore wind and other renewable energy opportunities.”
Renewable energy sources will create more jobs and help the nation address major climate change threats. We can no longer afford an ‘all of the above’ approach. New offshore drilling for oil and gas will compete for resources with renewables, making all sources more expensive to bring to market. Instead, we should prioritize our energy options and invest our resources in those that offer the greatest benefits. From a jobs, costs and climate standpoint, the most beneficial are renewables, such as offshore wind.
According to the U. of Massachusetts Political Economy Research Institute’s (PERI) study, for every $1 million of U.S. investment in clean technology (including wind, solar, smart grid work and building retrofits to increase energy efficiency), three times as many jobs are created than if the same amount were invested in the oil and gas industry. (Go to: http://www.peri.umass.edu/green_recovery/)
“Thus, the Obama Administration and U.S. Congress should favor renewable energy over offshore drilling because it will provide a better economic return on our investment, while protecting our natural assets at the same time,” Savitz added.
Drilling off Virginia’s coasts threatens its vibrant coastal economy, which depends on a clean Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. Drilling will also threaten the neighboring coastlines and economies of Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey. “We urge the administration to protect the economic interests of coastal communities, rather than pursuing a short-sighted energy policy,” said Savitz.
Oceana’s Pacific team, based in Juneau and Anchorage, AK, is pleased that the administration’s new OCS plan emphasizes the use of science to find common sense energy solutions while protecting the Arctic marine environment and the subsistence way of life.
Unfortunately, the new OCS plan leaves in place Lease Sale 193 in the Chukchi Sea. The decision to hold that lease sale, despite widely acknowledged gaps in science, remains subject to a pending challenge in federal district court. In addition, Shell’s plans to conduct exploration drilling in 2010 on that lease, and leases purchased in the Beaufort Sea, are subject to challenge in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“Trial and error is the wrong way to find out whether it’s safe to drill in the Arctic Ocean,” said Michael LeVine, Pacific Senior Counsel for Oceana. “We can do this the right way—science, precaution and community involvement, rather than trial, error and litigation.”
The Department of Interior prepared its revised version of the 2007-2012 Five-Year Leasing Program in response to a federal court decision that found Arctic offshore leases made during the Bush Administration to be arbitrary and unsupported by adequate science. The court ruled in 2009 that the Department of Interior violated the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act by failing to properly evaluate the environmental sensitivity of offshore areas and failing to balance appropriately the pros and cons of leasing.
“This new plan is a step in the right direction, and we believe Secretary Salazar can go the rest of the way to fix the bad Bush era leases and put in place comprehensive, precautionary management,” LeVine said. “We should approach this issue with a small group of stakeholders around a table, rather than in the courtroom.”
Jim Ayers, Oceana’s Pacific Vice President, said “Americans expect and deserve policy that uses good science to protect our oceans and the subsistence way of life, that provides critical energy for the country and that provides long-term job opportunities,” Ayers said. “We have the ingenuity and the capability to reach that goal without sacrificing any of those values.”
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