Offshore Drilling Plan Threatens Coastal Communities, Ocean Wildlife

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Cat Lazaroff, 202-772-3270

Offshore Drilling Plan Threatens Coastal Communities, Ocean Wildlife

Expansion of drilling could permanently alter much of America’s coastline and threaten economy of coastal communities

WASHINGTON -  The following is a statement by Defenders of Wildlife President and
CEO Rodger
Schlickeisen
:

“While we are pleased that the Obama administration has decided to
permanently protect Alaska’s salmon-rich Bristol Bay and continue
protection of the California coast until 2017, we’re extremely concerned
about the administration’s planned expansion of offshore drilling in
the Gulf of Mexico, south Atlantic, and mid-Atlantic coasts.  The
administration’s planned expansion of oil drilling risks the health of
marine wildlife, fisheries, and coastal economies.  It continues and
expands our dependence on fossil fuels at a time when we need to reduce
our dependence in order to address the harmful impacts of global
warming.  

“If this drilling plan is fully implemented as President Obama
outlined it today, it could spell disaster for much of America’s
coastline, and the tourism on which many coastal communities depend
economically. If oil drilling is allowed to proceed off our mid-Atlantic
coast, for example, major fisheries and wildlife areas including the
Chesapeake Bay and North Carolina’s Outer Banks will be subject to
disruptive seismic testing and potentially catastrophic oil spills. Oil
exploration and drilling will pose a particular risk to the highly
endangered North
Atlantic right whale
, which migrates along our entire Atlantic
coast. Defenders of Wildlife and other organizations have recently
petitioned to expand critical habitat protection for the North Atlantic
right whale to include areas being considered for drilling off the south
and mid-Atlantic coast. Any drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas
could prove disastrous for those fragile Arctic ecosystems and imperiled
species such as polar
bears
.

“We’re particularly disappointed that President Obama’s plan reverses
the bipartisan compromise reached by Congress in 2006 to safeguard
Florida’s Gulf Coast and Panhandle through 2022. As Senators, President
Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar all
voted in support of that compromise, which now stands to be reversed.
What kind of message does that send to citizens of California, for
example, who today were promised a reprieve from drilling until at least
2017?

“Increasing fossil fuel drilling will also increase the greenhouse
gas emissions responsible for global climate change. Today’s
announcement threatens the health of our near-shore waters, an
environment at particular risk from global warming. Now, more than ever,
it is urgent that Congress pass comprehensive climate and energy
legislation that tackles carbon emissions and addresses the climate
impacts already being seen today.”

###

Defenders of Wildlife is a national, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities.

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