– Press Release, Oceana Belize – Oceana in Belize joins its US affiliates in applauding the bold move of President Barack Obama to institute a new ban on offshore drilling in order to protect the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts.
The Department of the Interior announced that it would not include the Atlantic, Pacific or the Eastern Gulf of Mexico in its new Five-Year OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program, declaring these regions to be off limits. These areas were being considered for oil and gas development, and the administration had previously indicated support for exploration in the Atlantic Ocean, as well as in the Eastern Gulf, though Congressional action would be needed in that area. They also announced the start of a new process to reconsider drilling in the Arctic’s Beaufort Sea.
Oceana Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Sharpless made the following statement: “As we saw this summer, offshore oil drilling cannot be done safely. It wrecks fisheries, kills the jobs that depend on them, and contaminates beaches. This decision is a wise and sensible step to protect Florida, the Atlantic coast and the Pacific coast from an inevitable disaster from expanded drilling. It’s great to see the government acting in a strong, clear and far-sighted way to protect the oceans – and the people who work and depend on them.”
Sharpless commended the administration for committing to a new analysis of Shell’s proposal to drill in the Beaufort Sea. This builds on President Obama’s commitment to science and preparedness and reflects the undeniable truth that the US is not ready to drill in the Arctic.
Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Oceana’s VP in Belize said that this is very good news for Belize, because our leaders look at the US to justify their decision to proceed with oil exploration and drilling in Belize.
“This recent announcement by President Obama should be followed by Belize Prime Minster Dean Barrow, especially at a time when the report card on the reef reveals the current poor state of the reef system. This is also compounded by the fact that we are near a fallout with UNESCO, who is intent on de-listing the Belize Barrier Reef system from the World Heritage Sites. We cannot afford to lose this prestige as it will negatively impact our tourism sector and our national pride.”
Oceana’s US office was against expanded oil leasing before BP lost control of Deepwater Horizon. US Governments from both parties had imposed drilling moratoriums for more than twenty years. This decision is a very welcome return to common sense. Oceana in Belize Upon learning about the massive offshore concessions, Oceana in Belize immediately issued a call on the Government of Belize to reconsider its position and institute a ban on offshore drilling.