Environmental Groups and Members of Congress Release More Than 400,000 Comments Asking President to Ban Offshore Drilling in New Places

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Environment America

Today, Representative Pallone, NJ-D and Representative Castor, FL-D joined with Environment America, Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Greenpeace, MoveOn, Oceana, League of Conservation Voters, and Ocean Champions to release more than 400,000 comments from citizens all around the U.S. asking President Obama to protect our oceans and coasts from the expansion of offshore drilling. The comments were submitted on the President’s next 5 Year Drilling Plan from 2012 to 2017 a day before the close of the comment period.   

Anna Aurilio, Director of the Washington Office of Environment America said, “This past weekend we saw Hands Across the Sand events held on Saturday at more than 900 beaches around the country and the world – the largest ever public demonstration against offshore drilling.  Today, more than 400,000 citizens are sending a loud and clear message to the President that his plan to expand offshore drilling to new coasts is a bad idea. Instead of more drills and spills, we want more windmills and to end our dependence on oil.”

The comments come from a variety of sources and places: email alerts, door-to-door canvassing in coastal areas around the country, and postcards gathered at public events. Most coastal states and many inland states are represented in this outpouring of concern about offshore drilling.  In all, eight different environmental organizations contributed to this massive effort in a show of unity against expanded offshore drilling.

Athan Manuel, Director of Lands Protection at the Sierra Club said, “The BP Oil Disaster in the Gulf is a reminder that offshore oil drilling is a dirty, risky business that we shouldn’t allow off our other coasts. Imagine the devastation from a spill like this off Cape Hatteras, the Chesapeake Bay, the Georgia Sea Islands or the New Jersey shore. The environmental and economic damage would be huge, similar to what is happening right now in the Gulf. We must ban drilling outside existing areas in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Under provisions in the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), the President of the U.S. may administratively withdraw entire planning areas from consideration for leasing in the Nation’s drilling plan. Both Republican presidents, George H.W. Bush and Democratic presidents, Bill Clinton, have used this power to protect areas of the U.S. coast from drilling. For example, President Bush withdrew areas around the Alaskan coast, notably Bristol Bay, after the Exxon-Valdez oil spill in 1989.