Sierra Club

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 30, 2008

Contact: Kristina Johnson, Sierra Club
415.977.5619

Offshore Drilling Moratorium Expires Tonight After 27 Years

The offshore drilling moratorium that has protected America's coasts since 1981 will expire today. Congress wasn't able to come to an agreement on the future of the moratorium, and it was not renewed this year. They have now punted the issue to the next Congress. A separate executive drilling ban was lifted by President Bush earlier this year.

Statement of Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope

This is not the last we will see of the moratorium that has protected our coasts since 1981.

The drilling ban could very well be restored by a new Congress and president who understand that more offshore drilling will do nothing to lower gas prices or solve our energy crisis.

All the debate about drilling this year accomplished nothing other than serving as a distraction from real energy solutions.  Every time Congress tries to implement real clean energy solutions, the oil industry and its allies demand a ransom.

The lapse of the moratorium does temporarily leave the fate of our fragile coasts in the hands of the Minerals Management Service, a scandal-plagued agency that has demonstrated beyond a doubt that it is far too cozy with the oil industry.

While there are efforts underway to accelerate new coastal drilling, we are confident that we can beat back these measures. It's unlikely that any coastal state would risk its tourist economy by allowing drilling within three miles of its beaches. However, we will continue to watch vigilantly over the next few months to ensure that the Bush administration doesn't give away the store before they leave town. 

Once the politically-charged election season is over we will be able to revisit this issue as part of a comprehensive energy bill that moves us away from dependence on oil and invests in clean energy solutions.

We're already suffering from years of putting our energy policy in the hands of the oil industry. While Americans struggle to fill up their tanks, oil companies are raking in record profits. Instead of more offshore drilling, we need a comprehensive energy plan that will put Americans to work and infuse new life into our economy.

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