Offshore drilling ban in the United States


The US Department of the Interior has announced that in the new five-year drilling plan, no new offshore drilling would be allowed in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico or off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The Eastern Gulf of Mexico will be protected from offshore oil and gas exploration for the next seven years.

These areas were being considered for oil and gas development, and the Administration had previously indicated support for exploration in the Atlantic Ocean, as well as in the Eastern Gulf. They also announced the start of a new process to reconsider drilling in the Arctic’s Beaufort Sea. This is a step in the right direction, but there is still more on the table and more that must be done to protect the Arctic Ocean.

Oceana has been working for many years to ban offshore drilling and this decision provides an important move in the right direction towards moving towards cleaner and safer alternative sources of energy. Last summer, the international organization of marine conservation launched an expedition to the Gulf of Mexico in order to document and assess long-term impacts of BP’s Deepwater Horizon platform.

Oceana CEO Andrew Sharpless said: ““As we saw this summer, offshore oil drilling cannot be done safely.  It wrecks fisheries, kills the jobs that depend upon them, and contaminates beaches.  This decision is a wise and sensible step to protect Florida, the Atlantic coast and the Pacific coast from an inevitable disaster from expanded drilling.  We also commend the Obama Administration for committing to a new analysis of Shell’s proposal to drill in the Beaufort Sea.  This builds on President Obama’s commitment to science and preparedness.  It also reflects the undeniable truth that we are not ready to drill in the Arctic”.

Oceana expresses dismay at the fact that no similar moves are seen in European waters. The Mediterranean is the sea with the highest levels of hydrocarbon pollution in
the world and new drillings keep being undertaken in the Atlantic Ocean.