Press Release | April 30, 2010

SELC Calls for Administration to Go Beyond a Temporary Halt of New Oil Drilling

As oil continues to spill and reaches the Gulf’s white sands, shrimp and fish nurseries, and productive wetlands and marshes, the Southern Environmental Law Center today called on the Obama Administration to go beyond a temporary stay of new drilling hinging on investigation and discontinue plans to expand risky oil drilling to the South Atlantic and eastern Gulf of Mexico coastlines for a few months supply of oil.

“The only proven approach that protects our coastlines from oil spills is not to drill,” said Derb Carter, director of the Carolinas office at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “It’s a painful lesson to relearn each time spills happen and hard-working people and productive coastal areas bear the brunt of lasting effects. As we’re unfortunately witnessing now, it only takes one oil spill—regardless of cause—to devastate a coast for years—its beauty, rich cultural traditions, communities, and fisheries and wildlife.”
“Unfortunately, the best assurances and technology of the oil industry have not been good enough to either prevent or contain this oil spill,” added Catherine Wannamaker, an attorney with Southern Environmental Law Center’s Georgia and Alabama office. “And no known, available technology fully cleans oil from wetlands and marshes that protect Southern coastal communities in storms and shelter valuable wildlife and seafood nurseries.”

“The devastation unfolding now on the wildlife and people on the Gulf Coast should give the Obama Administration pause about continuing dependence on polluting fossil fuels,” said Deborah Murray, a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Virginia office. “To avoid expanding high risk extraction of fossil fuels in the South, energy efficiency measures should become the priority along with development of clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar.”

Oil continues to spew into the Gulf at a rate of 5,000 barrels per day and onto its vital shorelines despite all of the latest oil industry technology and resources brought to bear. While oil has already started to make landfall, there is still no certainty about when it will stop.

Over 20 years after the Exxon Valdez spewed oil onto Alaska’s shores, oil can still be found on beaches under rocks there despite clean up efforts.