Gulf of Mexico Still in Crisis Four Months After BP Explosion: Center for Biological Diversity Tour Finds Oiled Beaches, Water and Wildlife

For Immediate Release

Gulf of Mexico Still in Crisis Four Months After BP Explosion: Center for Biological Diversity Tour Finds Oiled Beaches, Water and Wildlife

Drilling Policy Reforms Still Too Weak, Too Late

NEW ORLEANS - Today
marks the end of the fourth month since BP's negligence and lack of
government oversight caused the Deepwater
Horizon
offshore drilling rig to explode, sending more than 200
million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
To assess how much damage was done and is continuing, the Center for
Biological Diversity sent a team to the Gulf to assess the state of its
beaches, marshes, waters and wildlife.

What
the Center's team saw was horrific. "Touring the Gulf of Mexico this week I've seen firsthand
how oil is still killing wildlife and fouling beaches and marshes,"
said Kierán Suckling, the Center's executive director. "This
crisis is far from over."

On
Grand Island,
the team found beaches covered in oil. Pools of liquid oil lie on the
surface, and oil mixed with sand is hardened in mats along the
water's edge. Some beaches appear fine from a distance but are
actually sitting atop massive amounts of oil, which bubbled to the surface
when the team walked across the sand. Digging into the sand with rubber
gloves, the Center's team struck oil just six inches below the
clean-looking surface.

Crabs
and birds continue to be covered in oil as they cross the beaches or land
in the marshes. Fish and sea turtles are forced to swim through oil on the
surface and below the surface as they look for food.

In
short, a full four months post-explosion, the Gulf of
Mexico is still an oily mess despite rosy assertions by oil
companies and the Obama administration two weeks ago that most of the oil
is gone. The Center's survey supports the conclusion of independent
scientists, who announced findings on Monday that 80 percent of the oil is
still present and continues to foul the beaches, waters, marshes and
wildlife of the Gulf.

"Rather
than downplay the oil damage, as it first downplayed estimates of the spill
rate, the Obama administration should mobilize more money and workers to
get this mess cleaned up," said Suckling.

Unfortunately,
regulatory reform is also inadequate four months after the explosion. The
White House has refused to rescind its March 31 decision to open up new
areas to offshore oil drilling on the Atlantic
Coast, eastern Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. The Department
of the Interior just recently banned the use of environmental waivers
(called categorical exclusions) for some projects, but is allowing these
waivers to illegally continue on hundreds of others. The Department has
refused to address the wholesale violation of the Endangered Species Act
and Marine Mammal Protection Act. And the Department of Justice has not yet
filed criminal charged against BP under the Clean Water Act.

"It
is clear that the Interior Department has its finger to the wind and is trying
to institute the minimum possible reforms to make it appear responsive to
the public's outcry. But this is the time for bold action, not window
dressing," said Suckling. "The Department of the Interior
should immediately end offshore oil drilling in Alaska, ban the use of
environmental waivers for all drilling plans and seismic testing, and
expand the current moratorium to include all dangerous oil rigs, not just
those in deep water."

To help secure the necessary reforms, the Center for
Biological Diversity has filed seven lawsuits against BP and failing
government regulators, including the largest Clean Water Act suit in
history, which seeks $19 billion in fines from BP.

Click
here
to learn more about the suits.

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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