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Environment Texas Welcomes President’s Six Month Moratorium, Calls for Permanent Ban on Drilling New Areas

For Immediate Release

AUSTIN – After 35 days of the largest oil spill in U.S. history, it appears that BP is finally bringing some control over the river of oil gushing into the Gulf.  U.S. Geological Survey Director Dr. Marcia McNutt announced earlier today that the disaster has already released between 17 and 39 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf, a substantial revision upward in the official size of the spill and one and one half to almost four times the size of the Exxon-Valdez spill. In a press conference this afternoon President Obama cancelled a pending lease sale off Virginia near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, a suspension of drilling planned for the Arctic this summer, and continued the temporary suspension of deepwater drilling in the Gulf.  Environment Texas reiterated its call for a permanent ban on drilling in new areas and thanked the President for canceling the lease sale off Virginia and delaying development of the Arctic leases.

 Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger said, "In light of what is now the largest oil spill in U.S. history, we thank President Obama for canceling the Virginia lease sale and delaying drilling in the Arctic but he must do more to ensure this doesn’t happen again. If nothing else, the BP oil spill highlights the fact that if you drill, you will spill and the President needs to permanently protect the Gulf of Mexico and the rest of our treasured coastlines by banning drilling in new places”

 The President continued a temporary ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico but opened operations in shallower water.  According to a 2007 study by MMS personnel of all wells drilled between 1992 and 2006, drilling in shallow water (less than 1,000 feet) is more risky than drilling in deep water over 1,000 feet.  During that period most blowouts occurred in water less than 500 feet and wells in shallow water were 18% more likely to have a blowout than deep water wells.

 “The administration is making a false distinction between the safety of drilling in deep versus shallow water. In fact drilling in shallow waters is MORE risky for blowouts than drilling in deeper water.  Shallow water leases tend to be closer to shore, so if there is a spill, responders have a shorter time to react before oil hits marshes or beaches,” said Metzger.

 “The real lesson of the BP Gulf Spill is that oil drilling is a risky and dangerous business. We cannot afford to expand that risk to new places around our coasts. President Obama should immediately protect places that are not being drilled today like the eastern Gulf, the Atlantic and the Arctic oceans and lead the charge to dramatically reduce our oil dependence, cut pollution and shift to a clean energy future,” Metzger concluded.