Posted on 12 October 2010.
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.”
“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.
Ask your Senators to pass comprehensive legislation to promote clean energy.
Posted in Experts, Features, Offshore Drilling, Press Releases, Southeast
Posted on 03 September 2010.
Last night, Canadian TV’s news staff got on the phone with Richard Charter, offshore drilling expert and senior policy adviser at Defenders of Wildlife, to hear what he had to say about the explosion of the Vermilion 380, an offshore drilling platform owned by Mariner Energy of Houston.
After monitoring the aftermath of the explosion almost 100 miles south of Louisiana, Richard said, “Everyone is relieved that 13 workers were rescued safely from the waters, but in terms of environmental consequences it’s too early to tell.”
He told CTV of the company that owned the rig, “Mariner Energy since 2006 has had nine reported incidents in the Gulf of Mexico, including four fires and one blowout. There are these smaller events consistently throughout the Gulf of Mexico that we don’t usually hear about because they don’t occur – by coincidence – on the same day, today, that BP experts were removing the capping stack from the Deepwater Horizon Macondo well.”
The current moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico would not have affected this rig, drilling at only 340 feet. Richard said, “The event today of course highlights that there are inherent risks of accidents in offshore drilling activities in any water depth.”
“We need to either make this activity safe or decide there are going to be parts of hte planet that are too environmentally sensitive to go ahead with high risk drilling – the Arctic is of course one of them. We’re getting some hard lessons as a society here.”
See the full interview here.
What you can do:
Write a letter to the editor. The House of Representatives has passed legislation to help protect our wildlife by improving safety and accountability in offshore drilling, but the Senate has yet to act. Help encourage your senators to act by writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
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Posted in Features, In the News, Marine Animals, Offshore Drilling, Southeast
Posted on 24 June 2010.
Post by Mike Senatore, vice president of conservation law at Defenders of Wildlife.
Tuesday, as the slow motion catastrophe caused by the Deepwater Horizon blowout continued to worsen, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman of the Eastern District of Louisiana blocked the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling imposed by President Obama’s administration. The moratorium, instituted on May 27, had brought the approval of any new permits for deepwater drilling to a standstill, and suspended drilling at 33 already existing exploratory wells in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil industry groups, led by Hornbeck Offshore Services Inc., asked that the temporary ban on hazardous deepwater oil drilling be blocked in order to resume drilling in risky deepwater conditions.
Defenders of Wildlife and several other environmental and conservation groups intervened in Hornbeck v. Salazar, supporting the administration in defense of its decision to enact a temporary moratorium on deepwater drilling. Allowing deepwater drilling to continue before the completion of an adequate investigation of the unprecedented Gulf oil disaster, and the implementation of measures to decrease the risk of future spills, imposes further grave risks to the already jeopardized environment and economy of the Gulf region. Over 1,746 birds, 528 sea turtles, and 51 marine mammals have been reported impacted by the atrocious April 20 oil spill. The actual numbers of affected wildlife are expected to be much higher.
In his ruling, Judge Feldman states that the government “failed to cogently reflect the decision to issue a blanket, generic, indeed punitive, moratorium with the facts developed during the thirty-day review.” With this finding, Judge Feldman ruled on the side of an industry that is responsible for substantial and irreparable damage that its actions have wrought upon our nation’s priceless wildlife and coastal communities (see: Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, 2006; Port Sulphur, La., 2000; Bolsa Chica State Beach, Calif., 1990; Price William Sound, Alaska [the Exxon Valdez], 1989, etc.). If erring on the side of caution after the greatest environmental disaster in our nation’s history is not adequate reasoning, what is?
This blog was originally posted on The Hill’s Congress Blog.
Posted in Commentary, Marine Animals, Offshore Drilling, Southeast
Posted on 23 June 2010.
A federal judge blocked a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling, but the Obama administration has decided to appeal the judge’s decision, reports Voice of America News.
Read the full story
Posted in In the News, Newsroom, Offshore Drilling, Southeast
Posted on 01 June 2010.
Oil-stained spill responders in white head-to-toe hazmat suits working to gather dead wildlife from the Gulf Coast marshes. What appears to be a resting dragonfly in a beautiful photograph is actually a creature glued to the leaf on which it sits by oil. A sinking seabird, covered in gooey black tar and pecking frantically at the hull of a boat, tries repeatedly but without success to get in, before disappearing forever behind the bow of the vessel. These images tell the tragic story: we’ve made the natural environment upon which we depend for sustenance deadly for our kind and for all living things. Read the full story
Posted in Commentary, Offshore Drilling, Southeast
Posted on 27 May 2010.
President Obama is expected to announce today that offshore oil drilling in the Arctic will be postponed for one year, and planned lease sales off the coast of Virginia and in the western Gulf of Mexico have been cancelled. New deepwater offshore permits will reportedly be put on hold for six months. However, shallow water permits will reportedly be allowed to proceed.
Defenders of Wildlife executive vice president Jamie Rappaport Clark said, “Safeguarding the Arctic Ocean for another year from dirty, damaging oil drilling is absolutely the right thing to do. We thank President Obama and Interior Secretary Salazar for their leadership and for taking this important step. Any spill in the Arctic would have devastating consequences for the region’s fragile wildlife and ecosystems, and there is no technology in existence that could clean up a spill in the area’s broken sea ice and frigid waters. We’re relieved that Arctic drilling will not go forward this summer, and we hope that ultimately these leases will be permanently cancelled. Read the full story
Posted in Commentary, Offshore Drilling, Southeast