The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Raviya Ismail

(202) 745-5221

House of Representatives Passes Bill Leaving Coasts Vulnerable to Oil Spill

Congress must instead implement new safeguards to protect coasts


By a vote of 235-186 the House of Representatives passed an offshore drilling bill that aims to increase oil production in the Outer Continental Shelf, leaving most of our coasts, from California, to Maine, to Bristol Bay in Alaska and the Arctic Ocean vulnerable to a BP oil spill disaster.

Sponsored by Representative Doc Hastings (R-WA), H.R. 2231 directs the Department of Interior to offer a minimum of 50 percent of currently unused acreage in the Outer Continental Shelf in each five-year lease plan.

The following statement is from Jessica Ennis, Legislative Representative at Earthjustice:

"Instead of focusing on implementing new safety and environmental protections for our coasts after the devastating BP oil spill, the House of Representatives is spending its time attempting to open more of our coasts to offshore drilling.

"It's troubling that the House wants to lease at least half of our coasts available in any five-year period in the Arctic and beyond with absolutely no regard for the impacts these drilling operations have on the environment and fragile ecosystems.

"The potential for an oil spill in the Arctic is very real and would result in catastrophic disaster. This remote region is one of the least understood areas of the world, and a disastrous oil spill could leave oil in the waters off Alaska for decades, killing whales, seals, fish, and birds, and also threaten the livelihood and health of the native communities living in this region.

"The BP oil disaster is a sad lesson in the inherent risks of offshore oil drilling. Instead of rushing forward with plans to expand drilling operations, Congress and the administration must heed sound science before any drilling plans in these sensitive waters can proceed."

Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. We bring about far-reaching change by enforcing and strengthening environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations, coalitions and communities.