The Surfrider Foundation released a statement today, expressing their disapproval of Obama's proposal to open areas of the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic coastline and Arctic coastline to oil drilling and exploration. They are not stoked.
“The Surfrider Foundation considers anything short of a complete reinstatement of the federal moratorium on offshore oil drilling a loss,” states the San Clemente-based clean-water advocacy group in a statement.
The moratorium on offshore drilling was removed in the summer of 2008, following the rising cost of domestic energy. Remember when gas was more then four bucks a gallon?
Obama attempted to console environmental groups in his statement, saying that the need for new domestic energy resources would be balanced with the need to protect our natural resources.
“There will be those who strongly disagree with this decision, including those who say we should not open any new areas to drilling,” said Obama.
Surfrider argues that any new oil drilling and exploration puts the environment at risk as well as the livelihoods of millions of Americans, “who rely on clean, healthy, oil-free oceans and beaches to support fishing, tourism and other industries.”
Once upon a time, in June of 2009, the Surfrider Foundation was sure they'd found a new ally in President Obama, when he issued a memorandum calling for executive departments and federal agencies to establish the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force. The panel was charged with protecting, maintaining and resorting the oceans, our coasts and the Great Lakes, since they play a critical role in our nation's transportation, economy and trade.
“A National Ocean Policy will help promote smarter management decisions,” Surfrider CEO Jim Moriarty said in response to this memorandum, “and ensure that we prioritize the health of our ocean ecosystems and coastal communities.”
Fast-forward to today, when Obama's proposal prioritized economic concerns over environmental ones.
“The bottom line is this: Given our energy needs, in order to sustain economic growth and produce jobs and keep our businesses competitive, we are going to need to harness traditional sources of fuel even as we ramp up production of new sources of renewable, homegrown energy,” said Obama. “We'll protect areas vital to tourism, the environment, and our national security. And we'll be guided not by political ideology, but by scientific evidence.”
Obama's proposal allows for oil development off the coast of Virginia in the Atlantic, and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico off of Florida's coast. It also makes drilling possible in about 130 million acres of Arctic Ocean off the north coast of Alaska, following exploration and study. Obama's proposal does not allow drilling on any of West Coast, or in the ecologically fragile Bristol Bay, off of southwestern Alaska.
“While we are pleased that the coastal waters off the West Coast will not see any new offshore oil drilling (for the time being),” stated Surfrider, “we view this as simply maintaining the status quo that has been afforded us for the last 30 years.”