For Immediate Release

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Brendan Cummings, Senior Counsel, (760) 366-2232 x304

Center for Biological Diversity Response to President Obama’s Gulf Disaster Speech: Temporary Suspension of Arctic Drilling Positive Step, But Permanent Protection of Arctic, Other Offshore Areas Needed

WASHINGTON - In response to President Barack Obama's press conference on actions he will take in response to the Gulf oil disaster, Center for Biological Diversity Senior Counsel Brendan Cummings said:

"While the decision to suspend Shell's planned drilling this summer in the Arctic is an important first step, what we really need is revocation of the improperly issued leases and permanent protection of the Arctic. The fact that no technology exists to effectively clean up an oil spill in Arctic waters will not be changed in a year's time.

"As the president recognized today and the Gulf disaster has tragically demonstrated, even in areas with existing infrastructure and significant spill response assets, containment and response capability to a large oil spill is wholly inadequate. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the Obama administration should not pretend that a six-month review of drilling procedures will change anything. Expanding offshore drilling to new areas needs to be permanently taken off the table.

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"President Obama's speech follows a month of half-steps and broken promises by the Interior Department since the Deepwater Horizon explosion in which a pledged ‘moratorium' on oil drilling turned out to be largely a fiction, with multiple drilling plans approved after no environmental review, and drilling permits similar to those given to BP continuing to be issued.

"President Obama has promised reforms relating to offshore drilling while Secretary Salazar has stated that ‘those responsible will be held accountable.' Secretary Salazar's search for accountability should start by looking in the mirror. President Obama's most important reform should be to install an Interior secretary with the capability and political will to effectively rein in the oil industry."

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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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