Obama administration to put large stretches of Atlantic coastline, beaches at risk

Media Contacts

Environment Georgia

Washington, D.C. — Today the Obama administration proposed opening up huge swaths of the Atlantic Ocean to offshore drilling, putting large stretches of the nation’s coastline, including some of its most beloved beaches from Virginia to Georgia, at risk of a devastating spill.

Nearly five years ago, the BP Deepwater Horizon spill dumped 200 million gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico and harmed 16,000 miles of coastline, making it the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history. The Obama administration proposal opens the door to similar tragedies for the Atlantic.

“From the Cumberland to Jekyll, our coasts are simply too precious to drill,” said Jennette Gayer, Enviornment Georgia director. “We’re sorely disappointed to see the president put so many beaches and coastal communities in jeopardy.”

In 2010, only days before the BP disaster, the administration had proposed a similar expansion of drilling as that announced today. In the months following the catastrophe, the administration quietly withdrew its plan.

“I have to say I’m dismayed by the president’s short memory,” said Gayer. “Less than five years ago, staring down the largest environmental disaster in our nation’s history, he thought better of dramatically expanding drilling and the dangers that come with it.”

While the administration proposed opening up vast new areas to drilling, it also recommended putting portions of the Arctic Ocean off limits, a follow-up to its proposal to create 12 million acres of wilderness in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Environment Georgia lauded the new protections for Alaska, while noting that the Atlantic Coast and all of the Arctic deserve protections, as well.

“Alaska’s Arctic refuge is like no other place on earth, and we congratulate the administration on safeguarding it for future generations,” said Alt. “But the sea turtles and right whales in the Atlantic don’t deserve an oil disaster any more than do the polar bears and the caribou. Neither do the tens of millions who visit Georgia’s beloved beaches every year.”

Environment Georgia also pointed out that expanding drilling runs counter to the president’s goals of reducing global warming pollution.

To fulfill his commitment to climate action, the president should double down on clean energy sources like wind and solar, not open up more of our beaches to a legacy of oil puddles and dead seabirds,” concluded Gayer.