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BP: Better Prepared?

Date : Thu, 21 Oct 2010 13:27:08 -0400

   

For Immediate Release
October 21, 2010 Contact: Jeff Tittel, NJ Sierra Club Director, 609-558-9100

BP: Better Prepared? Six Months after BP Spill, New Jersey Has Not Acted

Six months after an oil rig exploded in the Gulf Coast and caused the worst environmental disaster in our nation's history, our leaders are dragging their feet to protect New Jersey's coasts and promote renewable energy.

"After the spill, our elected leaders held press conferences against offshore drilling but none of them have stood up and taken any action to protect New Jersey,' New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said.

The headlines about the spill may have faded but the problem has not been resolved. The oil leak in the Gulf may have been plugged; however, the danger is not over.

The Obama Administration recently lifted the moratorium banning deepwater offshore drilling. Now that the Atlantic Ocean is open for exploration, New Jersey is more at risk than ever before. Plus, the Minerals Management Service is still going forward with rules that would allow for drilling 10 miles off Cape May.

The New Jersey Sierra Club believes we must restrict drilling off our coasts and instill more comprehensive protections to safeguard our beaches in the event of a disaster. There are important steps to take to combat the perils of oil drilling:

* Ban oil drilling in our waters and prevent the construction of onshore facilities for offshore oil drilling and exploration.

* Raise the liability limit for oil spills in our water. The current liability limits are capped at $65 million for state impact. That cap should be increased to cover $1 billion in damages. The current liability of $65 wouldn't even cover the loss of tourism in one beach town for one week.

* Improve New Jersey's coastal spill management plan, which is imperative in protecting us from disaster. Currently, this plan only addresses spills from tankers and barges but should include threats from offshore oil drilling.

* Promote renewable energy by supporting programs that enable the development of wind off our coasts. The Gulf oil spill showed us firsthand the impacts offshore drilling has on our environment and public health. It is critical to New Jersey's environment and public health that we take action to prevent a replication of this disaster.

Such a spill would be a devastating blow to New Jersey. Oil on our beaches would not only devastate the environment and wildlife but would also destroy a $39 billion tourism economy and a finishing industry that generates $750 million a year. Drilling off the coast of Delaware would require pipelines that could do serious environmental damage. A spill off Delaware's coast would endanger beaches from Cape May to Sandy Hook.

For the protection of our environment and public health, New Jersey must steer away from a reliance on dirty fuel and move towards renewable energy. Instead of risky oil rigs off our coasts, there should be windmills. Renewable energy would not only protect our shores and eliminate catastrophes like oil spills, but would strengthen our economy by creating thousands of green jobs.

Under current rules, it is easier to put an oil well off our coasts than a windmill. That must change. Wind is the most cost effective and reliable form of renewable energy. Not only is offshore wind clean power, in the long run, it is more economical and not subject to price volatility. We cannot drill ourselves into energy independence; instead we should explore new technologies for wind and wave power and remove obstacles that stand in the way of clean energy.

"We must move towards a clean energy future and get away from the fossil fuelishness of the past," Tittel said. "But until we do, we must hold those who pollute accountable by banning drilling in our waters, making them pay for the destruction, and being better prepared in the event of another spill."

Kara Seymour, Program Assistant NJ Sierra Club 145 W. Hanover Street Trenton, NJ 08618 609.656.7612 (f) 609.656.7618  <http://www.newjersey.sierraclub.org/> www.newjersey.sierraclub.org  

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Received on 2010-10-21 10:27:08

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at nicole.dallara@sierraclub.org

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