Obama Administration Announces Ban On New Offshore Drilling; Thank The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

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Hopefully not for at least another 7 years.
In direct conflict with its previous proclamations, the Obama administration today announced that there will not be any further new offshore oil drilling along the Atlantic Coast, the eastern Gulf of Mexico or the Pacific Coast. 

At least, not for the next (give or take) 7 years.

As you can probably gather, this change of direction has a bit to do with that nasty black stain still floating around and taking its toll in the Gulf of Mexico. You guessed it: the Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting catastrophic oil spill that dumped 185 millions gallons of crude oil into the surrounding waters saved our surrounding waters from a similar fate via new offshore drilling pursuits. In some twisted way, maybe we should be thanking BP.

"As a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill we learned a number of lessons, most importantly that we need to proceed with caution and focus on creating a more stringent regulatory regime," Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said, in a Wednesday afternoon briefing to reporters.

Though a moratorium will be instituted in the aforementioned waters, drilling will continue in the central and western Gulf of Mexico, but a new set of standards and safeguards will be put in place. For any current or future drilling there will be increased attention to equipment, safety, environmental safeguards and oversight.

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Our coastal waters are safe, for now.
Among the main parties celebrating this development is the Surfrider Foundation, which has been active in trying to halt future offshore drilling. 

Chad Nelsen, the Environmental Director for the Surfrider Foundation, called the news "really unexpected." For the past two years Surfrider has had a campaign opposing offshore drilling.

Nelsen's surprise stemmed from the fact that in March--just three weeks before the Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20, 2010--President Obama presented a controversial drilling plan which would have opened up waters in the Atlantic, eastern Gulf and off the coast of Alaska to future drilling.

Soon after Secretary Salazar's announcement, the American Petroleum Institute offered the following statement, ultimately calling the decision a mistake:

"As our country looks for ways out of the hole of lackluster economic growth and job creation, today's decision shows that this administration would rather keep digging than take the ladder to increased economic prosperity offered by developing our nation's domestic energy resources.

The oil and natural gas industry is a reliable vehicle for growing the economy and creating good-paying jobs. This decision shuts the door on new development off our nation's coasts and effectively ensures that new American jobs will not be realized. It will stifle investment, deny billions in revenue for critical government services and increase our dependence on foreign energy sources.

The oil and natural gas industry is committed to safe and environmentally responsible operations, and both the industry and regulators have added new safeguards to ensure such operations.This reversal on new lease sales off America's coasts comes on top of a de facto moratorium, which has all but stopped new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico."


Though today's news is seen as a victory for Surfrider, Nelsen said there are still battles to fight. Decisions are yet to be made having to do with seismic testing in the Atlantic, which would be harmful to marine mammals.


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