Federal Judge Lifts Gulf Drilling Moratorium, Giving Green Light to Risky Drilling

For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Miyoko Sakashita, (415) 658-5308 

Federal Judge Lifts Gulf Drilling Moratorium, Giving Green Light to Risky Drilling

Conservation Groups Will Appeal

NEW ORLEANS, LA - The Center for Biological Diversity and several
other environmental groups plan to appeal a judge's decision today that
lifts
the federal government's six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling. The

decision, by U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, reverses the
government's
moratorium put in place after finding that “offshore drilling of new
deepwater
wells poses an unacceptable threat of serious and irreparable harm to
wildlife
and the marine, coastal, and human environment . . . [and] that the
installation
of additional safety or environmental protection equipment is necessary
to
prevent injury or loss of life and damage to property and the
environment.” To
date, all safety measures and further analyses to better protect against
the
risk of future oil spills and harm to workers have yet to be
completed.

“The judge’s decision to lift the moratorium trades
oil-industry profits for the safety of offshore workers, the longterm
health of
the Gulf coast economy, and the environment,” said Miyoko Sakashita of
the
Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group that intervened
in the
case to defend the federal government’s moratorium. 

In
response to a lawsuit filed by Hornbeck Offshore Services, a company
that
provides services to oil rigs, Judge Feldman’s decision found that the
government had failed to provide enough specific findings on the risks
of
deepwater drilling to justify a blanket moratorium. However, contrary to

Hornbeck’s claims and the judge’s order, the moratorium was actually
very
narrowly tailored to fix regulatory problems identified by the
government that
lead to the BP oil spill. In fact, the moratorium only affected 33
deepwater
drilling rigs, leaving the production of approximately 3,600 drilling
rigs
unaffected. 

“The ongoing BP catastrophe in the Gulf should be
enough to
justify putting an end to all new offshore drilling,” added Sakashita. “It
is obvious that the entire system is
broken, and Big Oil lied about the risks of oil spills and its ability
to
respond to them.”

Compelled by the fallout from the BP oil spill, the
federal
government was forced to acknowledge its failure to adequately regulate
worker
and environmental safety of drilling and instituted the moratorium that
was
lifted by a Louisiana judge today.  The court’s decision to
lift the
moratorium on drilling before implementing necessary changes invites the

possibility of another disaster. 

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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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