Washington, DC - Today, before final safety studies have been completed, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and Michael Bromwich, Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM), announced that oil companies could resume offshore drilling if they complied with newly issued regulations and had firm commitments for spill containment resources. The Department of Interior had imposed the moratorium on existing and new drilling in water more than 500 feet deep in response to BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill the Gulf of Mexico. Michael Gravitz, Oceans Advocate for Environment America, issued the following statement:
“Allowing Big Oil to resume drilling in deep water before we are sure of what went wrong six months ago is like putting a drunk behind the wheel of the car. A return to deepwater drilling now does not make sense. Neither the authorities, nor the America people have a full understanding of what happened to cause the largest oil spill in U.S. history. We do not even know what steps need to be taken to prevent blowout preventers on the seafloor from failing again. The government never released a thorough risk analysis of deepwater drilling.
“The best way to protect our oceans and beaches from drilling accidents is to do no drilling at all. We urge the Department of Interior and the President to permanently ban drilling in places that are not currently being drilled.
“Despite oil industry claims, the sky is not falling in the Gulf because of the temporary ban on deepwater drilling. Instead, the sky has already fallen on tens of thousands of fishermen and tourism industry workers who are out of jobs because of the BP oil spill. The spill closed over 80,000 square miles of fishing waters, killed or polluted fish and chased tourists away from oiled beaches stretching from Grand Isle, LA to east of Pensacola, FL almost 600 miles away.
“In the Gulf alone there are 492,000 tourism related jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry together with commercial and recreational fishing industries, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. These jobs rely on healthy oceans and clean coastlines, both of which are jeopardized by drilling.”