WASHINGTON, D.C. – Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has finalized the Department of Interior’s offshore leasing plan for 2012 to 2017. The plan codifies the Obama administration’s December 2010 proposal to protect the Atlantic and Pacific from offshore drilling and limit expansion of drilling leases in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. The plan additionally removed an area off the coast of Virginia from consideration for drilling, but will allow limited oil exploration in the Arctic.
Environment America’s Preservation Advocate, Nancy Pyne issued the following statement in response:
“As Americans across the country flock to beaches this summer, we can rest assured that the Atlantic and Pacific coasts will be safe from oil drilling. Families at Virginia Beach won’t have to fear a disaster like the BP spill, and beach-goers in California won’t see new rigs on the horizon.
“While we celebrate protections for coastal waters in the Atlantic and Pacific, we are disappointed to see the administration moving ahead with the permitting process in the Arctic. The icy waters and fragile ecosystems of the Arctic are too precious to risk another oil spill, like Deepwater Horizon or Exxon Valdez. If there is anything we have learned from these disasters it is that vibrant marine ecosystems and flourishing coastal economies are far more valuable than the limited oil we can extract from our coasts.
“We thank Secretary Salazar and President Obama for standing firm in their plan to safeguard most of our coastline, but urge the administration not to issue any further leases off the coast of Alaska. Instead, we need to focus on clean energy and smart transportation policies that will end our dependence on oil, rather than opening more land, both onshore and off, to oil and gas exploration drilling.”