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Media Advisory, March 20, 2011

Contact: Miyoko Sakashita, (415) 658-5308

Center for Biological Diversity Statement on Possible New Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
New Drilling Permits Still Lacking Environmental Compliance

SAN FRANCISCO— Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity, issued the following statement today in response to a possible oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico near the site of the 2010 BP oil spill. According to the Times-Picayune, the Coast Guard is investigating reports of a potentially large, 100-mile oil sheen in the Gulf of Mexico. The Coast Guard has confirmed a substance on the surface, but the source of the sheen is not yet known and tests are underway to determine if it is oil.

“The threat of a new oil spill is ever-present in the Gulf of Mexico, where hundreds of drilling permits are issued every year. The new reports of an oil slick in the Gulf emphasize the need for continued precautions in offshore drilling. After the catastrophic BP oil spill the government promised reforms, yet nearly one year later many problems persist with the government’s oversight of offshore drilling. For example, in the past month Secretary Salazar has issued three new deepwater permits with certain new safety standards, but still without environmental review. Now that old assumptions about the risks of oil spills have been proven wrong, these permits have continued to evade environmental review just like the BP drilling plan, even after the largest oil-spill disaster in the country’s history.”

“In the next few days, Secretary Salazar is expected to approve the first deepwater exploration plan since the moratorium suspended deepwater drilling. Meanwhile, there are still many unanswered questions about the safety of deepwater drilling and the effectiveness of oil-spill response. For example, the impact of dispersants on wildlife, which may become necessary in response to the new oil slick, have yet to be examined. So far, the government response to the BP spill has been incomplete. Until and unless offshore drilling comes into compliance with our environmental laws and risky drilling is made safe, new offshore drilling must stop. There must also be a permanent ban on offshore drilling in the Arctic, where harsh conditions make effective oil-spill response impossible.”

“The environmental devastation from the BP spill in the Gulf is ongoing, and the full effects are unlikely to be known for decades. Experts speculate that dolphins’ exposure to the oil may have led to a spike in dolphin miscarriages; more than 80 have been found dead along the coast. Long-term impacts on sea turtles, birds, whales and rare bluefin tuna that were spawning during the BP spill have yet to be determined.”

The Center for Biological Diversity has two lawsuits pending that challenge the government’s failures to comply with environmental laws while permitting offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico even after the BP rig exploded on April 20, 2010. The Center also has pending a $19 billion Clean Water Act suit against BP to make sure the oil giant is held responsible for environmental cleanup.

Visit the Center's Gulf Disaster webpage at

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