Deepwater drilling moratorium lifted prematurely, threats to wildlife left unaddressed

A pelican oiled by the Gulf oil disaster

Oiled Pelican (Copyright AP / Charlie Riedel)

The Obama administration today lifted its moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, more than a month before the scheduled end date. The administration has not adequately addressed failures to comply with environmental laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act.

Richard Charter, offshore drilling expert and senior policy advisor for Defenders of Wildlife said, “It is premature to lift the deepwater drilling moratorium in the Gulf. Although the increased safety and spill response requirements imposed by Interior Secretary Salazar are important, there are still no new measures in place to protect species such as endangered sea turtles and sperm whales, and imperiled bluefin tuna.”

“Before Secretary Salazar approves any applications to resume drilling, potentially opening the Gulf up to future environmental disasters, he must ensure that the potential impacts on wildlife have been fully evaluated and strong measures are in place to protect them.”

“Although the increased safety and spill response requirements imposed by Interior Secretary Salazar are important, there are still no new measures in place to protect species such as endangered sea turtles and sperm whales, and imperiled bluefin tuna.”

Rig in the distance of Bon Secour“The potential resumption of deepwater drilling in the Gulf makes it increasingly critical for Congress to pass legislation that ensures safer operations in any water depth, provides better spill response, lifts the grossly inadequate liability cap currently in place and secures funding for restoration efforts in the Gulf. The Obama administration should push the Senate to act and remain steadfast in its efforts to ensure that there will be no repeats of last summer’s disaster in the Gulf.”

Read more about the lifting of the moratorium.

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