Defenders' Statement on Gulf Oil Spill Disaster

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Richard Charter, Defenders of Wildlife, 707-875-2345
Cat Lazaroff, Defenders of Wildlife, 202-772-3270

Defenders' Statement on Gulf Oil Spill Disaster

WASHINGTON - The following are statements from Defenders of Wildlife:

"In a catastrophe that imperils the entire Gulf Coast, offshore oil
drilling has again proven to be unreliable and unsafe. As officials
gamble with untested means to stop the flow, oil continues to gush into
the Gulf and move towards our beaches, coastal communities, wildlife
habitat and Gulf fisheries," said Richard Charter, Senior Policy
Advisor, Marine Programs. "Wildlife refuges and estuaries in Louisiana,
Mississippi, and possibly the coast of Florida, along with thousands of
migrating birds, sea turtles, whales and dolphins, river otters and
many other species lie potentially in the path of the spill. The extent
of the environmental and economic impacts of this spill have yet to be
seen, but clearly raise grave concerns for any expansion of drilling
off of our coasts in the future."

"Although we are encouraged by the White House announcement that no
new areas will be opened up to drilling until this spill has been fully
investigated, Shell has announced plans to move forward with drilling
in the Arctic, an area just as ecologically fragile as the Gulf, and
where cleanup technology doesn’t even exist," said Jamie Rappaport
Clark, executive vice president of Defenders of Wildlife and former
director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "It is time for
President Obama to reinstate the moratorium on all drilling off of U.S.
shores, ensuring that we can deal with the situation at hand without
opening another part of our country up to similar disaster. Hopefully
this catastrophe will be a wake-up call for Congress to pass
comprehensive climate change legislation that moves us beyond drilling
along our fragile coastline and towards a cleaner greener energy
future."

Background

Since 2006, there have been 509 fires recorded on oil platforms in
the Gulf of Mexico, including nine major oil rig fires that have killed
at least two people and seriously injured 12, according to the U.S.
Mineral Management Services. Oil is estimated to be gushing from
underneath the rig at an estimated rate of at least 5,000 barrels a day.

Summary:

  • Oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout has made landfall on the
    Gulf coast; it is expected to hit the Delta and Breton National
    Wildlife Refuges before reaching the mainland.
  • The Department of Homeland Security has declared the Deepwater
    Horizon Gulf spill of "national significance" and multiple agencies are
    mobilizing to control the spread of oil.
  • Officials dealing with the spill have repeatedly pointed out that a
    spill of this sort is unprecedented; they have never encountered oil
    leaking from a well a mile below the surface.
  • Solutions could take months to implement, in which time spreading
    oil will have devastated the Gulf coast, from Louisiana down to
    Florida’s beaches.
  • On the eve of International Migratory Bird Day, thousands of
    migratory birds are traveling through this vital flyway and could be
    impacted by this uncontrolled spill.

 

 

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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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