Administration Drilling Plan Sends Wrong Messages On Energy Priorities

Published: Mar 31, 2010
New York, NY - 
Comments of Mike Daulton, Audubon Policy Director
on Administration lifting of offshore drilling restrictions.

"We are very disappointed with the administration's plan to expand dangerous offshore drilling that threatens our beaches and coastal economies."

"The Obama administration's plans for expanded drilling in many offshore areas perpetuates the fiction that we can drill our way to energy independence. The real solution will come from expansion of clean sources of energy like properly-sited solar and wind power and expanded efficiency measures and energy conservation. The administration deserves credit for making progress promoting clean energy, but this dirty energy approach is a step backward. To the extent that drilling may be needed to meet some short term energy needs, those needs can be met with energy production in areas that are already available rather than risk oil spills in pristine coastal areas.

"The administration's selective approach to identifying areas for drilling attempts to reflect the reality that some places are simply too fragile to risk. Though it properly emphasizes the role of sound science in making long-term energy decisions, it fails to protect many highly sensitive areas. For example, it leaves in place Lease Sale 193 in the Chukchi Sea despite widely acknowledged scientific gaps and serious environmental risks.

"We urge the Obama administration to focus on clean energy priorities and to protect America's special places from the risks of oil drilling."

Comments from regional Audubon leaders:

Eric Draper Executive Director
Audubon of Florida

"Opening Florida's offshore waters to oil drilling puts everything that makes Florida special at risk; its aquatic reserves and resources, its incredible beaches, stunning birds and wildlife, and its rich tourism and marine economies. Off shore drilling sends the wrong signal to the world that America is not serious about achieving real and lasting energy independence but instead is prolonging its addiction to polluting fossil fuels, the key drivers of climate change."

Dan Taylor
Director of Public Policy
Audubon California

"We are pleased that the California coastline, which holds more than 20 of Audubon's Important Bird Areas, will continue to be protected. However we are of course disappointed to see the administration fall back on this outdated approach towards energy development."

Eric Myers
Senior Policy Representative
Audubon Alaska

"Acknowledgement of the need to obtain a basic understanding of Arctic marine science is long-overdue. The decision to move ahead with drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas this summer without the benefit of that information, however, is greatly disappointing."

"It is widely accepted that there is no ability to effectively respond to oil spills in the harsh Arctic marine environment. Further oil development in the Arctic Ocean should be deferred until the industry demonstrates it is able to effectively deal with spills."

Background: President Obama to Open Offshore Areas to Oil Drilling
The Obama administration proposes to open vast expanses of ocean water along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling for the first time. The plan would end a longstanding moratorium on oil exploration along the East Coast, including Florida and Virginia. Large tracts in the Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska — nearly 130 million acres — would be eligible for exploration and drilling after extensive studies. 

The proposal was announced today by President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland 

Action people can take to help birds and stem Climate Change
Audubon Action Center
www.audubon.org/globalWarming

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The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.

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