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

March 23, 2009

Contact: Kristina Johnson
(415) 977-5619

Exxon Valdez: Twenty Years Later, Frequent Oil Spills Still Threaten Coasts
Sierra Club Calls for Clean Energy, Not More Drilling

Tuesday, March 24 marks the 20th anniversary of one of the worst environmental disasters in history, the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Sadly, two decades after the disaster, oil spills are still a regular occurrence. Earlier this month, a tanker off the coast of Australia crashed, spilling 52,000 gallons of oil and shutting down local fisheries.

It's not just tanker accidents that pour oil into our oceans, destroying fisheries and the coastal economies that rely on them. Since 1993, U.S. offshore drilling has sent an average of 47,800 barrels of oil a year into the sea, according to data from the Minerals Management Service . Offshore drilling platforms are particularly vulnerable to storms: The Coast Guard estimates that during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, roughly 9 million gallons of oil were spilled.

Fortunately, the Obama administration understands that more drilling won't solve our energy problems. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has announced that in April the agency will hold a series of public hearings on offshore drilling in Alaska, New Jersey, New Orleans and San Francisco. The hearings will provide Americans with an opportunity to tell the Obama administration that we support its commitment to renewable energy, and that we want to leave the drill-everywhere days of the Bush administration behind us.

Statement of Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope:

The anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster should serve as a reminder of the threat oil poses to our oceans and coasts. Instead of opening the door to more Exxon-style disasters, we should embrace the clean energy solutions that will keep our beaches and marine life intact and help combat global warming.

Offshore oil drilling is a risky, dirty, dangerous business. Contrary to what the oil industry would like us to believe, there is no effective method for cleaning up an oil spill. Where there are tankers and offshore drilling, there will always be spills.

More offshore drilling won't lower gas prices for average Americans. It will only add to the record-breaking profits made by oil industry executives.

It's time to leave the days of oil spills behind us. Investment in clean energy like offshore wind power will help end our addiction to fossil fuels. It will help create green jobs and energy independence.

The drill-everywhere days of the Bush administration are behind us. Americans want clean energy and the jobs that come with it, not more bloated oil industry profits. The Obama administration clearly understands that.

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