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Press Room:  For Immediate Release 
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet

Alaska Wilderness League * Defenders of Wildlife * Environment California * Pacific Environment * Sierra Club * Surfrider Foundation

For Immediate Release: April 15, 2009

Contact:
Kristina Johnson, Sierra Club, (415) 977-5619
David Gordon, Pacific Environment, (510) 541-5334
Alexis Henry, Surfrider Foundation, (949) 732-6413

Offshore Drilling Hearings Culminate with Resounding "No" to Drilling, "Yes" to Safe, Clean energy

San Francisco, CA - Hundreds of California residents, fishermen, scientists, environmentalists and youth are expected to speak out against proposed offshore drilling plans tomorrow at a public hearing held by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in San Francisco. This is the last of four hearings and the only one held on the West Coast.

The hearings were held to get feedback on the five-year drilling plan proposed in the waning days of the Bush administration. The plan would open 130 million acres off the coast of Humboldt, Mendocino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, and San Diego Counties. The proposed plan would also open up more of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and Bristol Bay Bristol Bay fisheries are valued at $2 billion annually and 40% of US fish catch come from the region. No reliable method exists for cleaning up oil in broken sea ice.
 
"At each of these hearings, Americans have sent a clear message that they want clean energy, not more offshore drilling," said Sierra Club president Allison Chin. "There's no reason to put our coasts at risk for more oil spills. We have clean energy technology now that will create jobs, infuse new life into our economy, and end our dependence on oil."

Opponents of drilling will be at to the San Francisco hearing with signs, costumes of dolphins, whales, polar bears and fish, banners, and ‘no drilling’ clothing. Citizens are also calling on the administration to invest in the kind of clean energy that creates good, sustainable jobs.

“The oil industry, apart from all its other problems, generates very few jobs per dollar of investment and is run by executives who generally hate unions, like low wages, and subcontract out everything they can to the lowest-wage workers they can find," said International Longshore and Warehouse Union Representative Lamont Kelly. "We’d all be a lot better off if our elected officials would support a policy of good union jobs, that pay enough to support working families, and have us build the alternative energy systems we need to survive and prosper in the years ahead.”

California residents are particularly sensitive to the impacts from oil development and spills. The Bay Area is still feeling the repercussions of the 2007 Cosco Busan oil spill.  Santa Barbara recently commemorated the 40 year anniversary of the Union Oil blowout in 1969 that spewed oil into coastal waters for 11 days straight before it could be controlled, coating 35 miles of coastline in oil up to six inches thick. The public outrage from the blowout gave birth to California’s environmental movement.

“We’ve seen oil development and oil spills destroy communities, soil beaches, and kill countless numbers of birds, marine mammals, fish, and other wildlife,” said David Gordon, Executive Director of Pacific Environment. “Californian and Alaskan fisheries, subsistence, and tourism economies are too valuable to sacrifice to offshore drilling.  With our coastlines already under threat from global warming, it’s time to develop renewable energy, not perpetuate the problem by drilling for oil.”

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SAN FRANCISCO OFFSHORE DRILLING RALLY -THURSDAY APRIL 16
AVAILABLE SPOKESPEOPLE

Zeke Grader, Executive Director, Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Association, (415) 606-5140
“We know that going after oil kills fish and we know that the by product of burning oil the acidification of our oceans- also kills fish. We’ve got to kill offshore drilling now to protect our fisheries.”

Lamont Kelly, International Longshore & Warehouse Union Local 10 Representative, (925) 330-0052
“The oil industry, apart from all its other problems, generates very few jobs per dollar of investment and is run by executives who generally hate unions, like low wages, and subcontract out everything they can to the lowest-wage workers they can find. We’d all be a lot better off if our elected officials would support a policy of good union jobs, that pay enough to support working families, and have us build the alternative energy systems we need to survive and prosper in the years ahead.”

Allison Chin, President, Sierra Club
Contact: Kristina Johnson, (415) 977-5619
"At each of these hearings, Americans have sent a clear message that they want clean energy, not more offshore drilling. There's no reason to put our coasts at risk for more oil spills. We have clean energy technology now that will create jobs, infuse new life into our economy, and end our dependence on oil."

Faith Gemmill, Executive Director, Resisting Environmental Destruction On Indigenous Land
Contact: Emilie Surrusco (202) 341-8787
“Our ability to pursue our way of life as we have for millennia is endangered by the current OCS five-year plan as well as the Bush legacy five-year plan. Alaska Native subsistence cultures are not expendable, and are already threatened by climate change impacts.  The energy interests of the United States must not continue to undermine the subsistence rights of Alaska Native coastal communities.”

Sejal Choksi, Program Director, San Francisco Baykeeper
Contact: Sara Aminzadeh, (415) 794-8422
“The 2007 Cosco Busan oil spill released 53,000 gallons of oil into San Francisco Bay, endangering human health, fisheries, and critical marine habitat throughout the entire Bay Area.  Offshore drilling will increase vessel traffic and oil transport in and out of the Bay, thereby increasing the chances of another spill, a risk which we cannot accept.”

David Gordon, Executive Director, Pacific Environment, (510) 541-5334
“ We’ve seen oil development and oil spills destroy communities, soil beaches, and kill countless numbers of birds, marine mammals, fish, and other wildlife. Californian and Alaskan fisheries, subsistence, and tourism economies are too valuable to sacrifice to offshore drilling.  With our coastlines already under threat from global warming, it’s time to develop renewable energy, not perpetuate the problem by drilling for oil.”

Angela Haren, Program Director, California Coastkeeper Alliance, (415) 753-1481
“Offshore oil drilling threatens California’s priceless marine ecosystems,” said “It's time to break our addiction to oil and gas by shifting our priorities-and our policies-toward creating a clean energy economy.”

David Helvarg, Blue Frontier Campaign, (202) 491-6296
 “We support the alternative development of clean offshore energy systems like wind, wave, tidal and ocean thermal but only if they're done as part of a larger system of marine zoning for healthy seas, also known as Ecosystem Based Management.”

Brain Nowicki, Center for Biological Diversity, (916) 201-6938
“Secretary Salazar currently has the opportunity to protect coastal wildlife by simply revoking some of the worst environmental rollbacks of the Bush administration. Congress gave Secretary Salazar until May 9 to restore Endangered Species Act protections to polar bears and all wildlife threatened by offshore drilling and global warming.”
 
Emilie Surrusco, Communications Director, Alaska Wilderness League, (202) 341-8787
“The Arctic is America’s air conditioner and must be protected. Arctic communities and wildlife-including polar bears, walruses and whales-are already struggling to survive in the face of global warming. Offshore drilling will tip the balance against them.”

Judith Vidaver, Chair, Ocean Protection Coalition, (707) 964-2742
"If allowed to function properly, a protected and restoration ocean has the greatest potential to ameliorate climate change.”

Richard Charter, Defenders of Wildlife, (707) 696-1363


 



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