WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today 14 Senators, led by Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), sent a letter to President Obama calling on him to permanently withdraw the entire Arctic and Atlantic Oceans from any future leasing for offshore drilling. The letter comes on the heels of a bipartisan letter sent by 74 members of the House of Representatives as well as another letter sent by the heads of some of the nation’s leading environmental organizations, both urging President Obama to permanently protect the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans from any future offshore drilling. Lease sales in the Arctic are contemplated in the Department of the Interior’s draft five-year offshore drilling plan for 2017-22, which is expected to be finalized before the end of the Obama Administration. Proposed Atlantic Ocean lease sales were removed from an earlier draft of the plan, but the east coast remains at risk of Big Oil’s attempts to drill in future five-year plans.
In response to today’s letter, LCV President Gene Karpinski issued the following statement:
“As the southeast braces for Hurricane Matthew, it is a reminder that the last thing folks along the east coast need to worry about are offshore drilling rigs that cause catastrophic spills and contribute to the pollution fueling climate change that makes storms more destructive. Thankfully, President Obama listened to the voices of opposition to Atlantic drilling and removed those leases from his administration’s five-year offshore drilling plan. But Big Oil remains determined to expand offshore drilling to the Atlantic Ocean and the remote and sensitive ecosystem of the Arctic Ocean. Now we hope the president will listen to the growing chorus of voices calling on him to permanently protect the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans from the risks of offshore drilling and initiate a just transition to clean energy for the Gulf of Mexico region. Doing so would expand the president’s historic leadership on climate change and ocean conservation and help align our long-term federal energy decisions with a climate-safe future. We thank Senators Markey, Booker, and the other signers of this letter for their leadership on behalf of our oceans, communities, and climate.”