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


May 27, 2010

Contact: Kristina Johnson
(415) 977-5619

President Obama Halts Arctic, Virginia Drilling, Announces New Safety Rules
Sierra Club Calls for an End to Offshore Drilling and a Plan to Move Beyond Oil

Washington, DC – The Sierra Club issues the following statement in response to President Obama's announcements about the BP oil disaster in the Gulf:

Statement of Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune

It's very encouraging to see President Obama taking steps to end the lax safety regulations the oil industry has fought so hard to maintain and to put a stop to more drilling in areas like the Arctic and Virginia. The changes President Obama announced will help reduce the risk of another catastrophic oil blowout.  We know this disaster is the worst of its kind in U.S. history.  These are important short-term moves, but these steps won't solve the underlying problems caused by our reliance on oil.

The resignation of Elizabeth Birnbaum as head of the Mineral Management Service is a sign that a culture of accountability may finally be taking hold but the cozy relationship Big Oil has with our government is pervasive.  To end the industry’s reign of self-regulation, pollution and profiteering, BP must be held fully responsible for their negligence, the government must stop subsidizing these polluting companies, and there must be a massive new effort to move America away from oil dependence. 

Oil is a dirty and dangerous business and the industry has repeatedly refused to learn from its failures.  Where there is offshore drilling, there are oil spills.  The disaster we see in the gulf is the worst of its kind. The risks of oil have never been clearer.

The oil industry is going to greater and greater lengths in its desperate bid for more oil, while the cost to the rest of us grows.  The President has taken an important step today.  To fully address this crisis, we are also calling on the President to:

Stop the gusher. The latest "top kill" measure may be working, which would be a great relief but once the gusher is stopped, the Gulf and coasts will still be facing dire impacts from the oil that is already there.  Focus must remain on containment and recovery. The administration is working around the clock to stop the spread of oil. They need to continue to employ every tool at their disposal to contain this disaster as quickly as possible.

Stop all new drilling.  We are pleased that the President heeded our call to cancel exploratory drilling permits for the Arctic's Beaufort and Chukchi seas and Virginia’s coast.  The President should go one step further and halt all new drilling.

Make the Gulf communities and environment whole – Gulf coast communities, which supply 30 percent of the nation’s wild caught seafood and still have not recovered from Hurricane Katrina and subsequent storms, are suffering from this oil drilling disaster. Gulf coastal wetlands have been under assault by the oil industry for half of a century, and this disaster will further destroy them. The federal government and BP must be held accountable to restore the communities and environment of all of the affected areas. More specifically, impacted communities should receive full compensation for financial losses, all health expenses from medical care and missed work for clean-up workers and other affected people should be covered, legal and translation skills should be provided to assist with compensation and wetlands should be restored.

Demand more accountability and transparency from government and industry. The safety measures announced today are crucial.  In addition, BP and the federal government must immediately release all information regarding the response to the spill including: spill size and impacts, any and all data regarding the chemical properties and impacts of dispersants, as well as contamination testing. Oil companies and other responsible parties – not taxpayers or those affected – should be liable for the full costs of cleaning up the spill and compensating the victims.

Deliver a plan to end our dependence on oil and move to a new clean energy economy. It's time to move beyond oil. We already have the technology and clean energy solutions for a 21st century transportation system that will create energy independence and end our addiction to oil. President Obama should deliver a bold plan to implement these solutions, immediately.

Latest updates here

Also today the Sierra Club and the American Security Project released a joint report entitled "Ending Our Dependence on Oil," which shows how America’s addiction to oil threatens our national security, our economy and our environment.

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