Protect Our Marine Ecosystems From Offshore Oil Spills

The Bush/Cheney Administration has launched an all-out push to line our coasts with oil rigs that would pollute our waters, threaten dolphins and other marine wildlife and wreck coastal economies.

According to federal energy officials, such drilling will have "no significant" impact on prices at the gas pump. But offshore drilling contaminates water, routinely spilling oil and toxic liquids into our oceans and releasing hazardous fumes into our air. It would have a significant impact on dolphins, sea turtles and other marine wildlife that need healthy oceans.

The danger of contamination is even greater in waters prone to tropical storms and hurricanes. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita resulted in 124 separate spills and more than 740,000 gallons of petroleum products spilled into the Gulf of Mexico and fragile wetlands.

We only have until September 15th to stop this awful plan! Please sign our letter below urging the Minerals Management Service to shelve the Bush/Cheney proposal for more harmful offshore drilling.

To: Mr. James F. Bennett, Chief, Branch of Environmental Assessment, Minerals Management Service

Re: 5-Year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program

As a supporter of Defenders of Wildlife and someone concerned about America's energy future, I am writing to express my opposition to the Minerals Management Service's (MMS) new 5-year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) leasing program proposed for 2010 to 2015.

[Your comments will be added here]

Specifically, I strongly oppose any new leasing in areas that are currently protected under the Congressional Moratoria on offshore drilling. Congress approved this ban more than two decades ago following a disastrous oil spill off the coast of California that devastated the local economy and local wildlife.

The threat from offshore drilling is no less real today. Accidents on rigs are often due to human error, not technology, so the question is not whether an accident will occur, but when.

Offshore drilling contaminates water, routinely spilling oil and toxic liquids into our oceans and releasing hazardous fumes into our air. Pollutants like mercury and persistent hydrocarbons contaminate important marine habitat near platforms and massive oil spills can kill seabirds, sea turtles, fish and marine mammals.

These dangers are compounded in waters that are prone to tropical storms and hurricanes. According to your agency's own data, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita resulted in 124 separate spills and more than 740,000 gallons of petroleum products spilled offshore, including crude and refined oil that leaked into the Gulf of Mexico and fragile wetlands.

I also strongly oppose expanding leasing off Alaska and encourage the agency to scale back on the dramatic expansion of Alaskan leasing included in the previous 5-year plan. Recent leasing in the Beaufort and Chukchi Sea planning areas was rushed through without proper consideration of the impacts that drilling will have on the 1/5 of the world's polar bears that make their home there or the area's walruses and endangered Bowhead whales.

Such drilling threatens terrible environmental damage and would provide little relief to American consumers. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that drilling off our coasts would have "no significant" impact on domestic production until 2030. And, even then "impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant."

I urge your agency and the Secretary of the Interior to cancel this leasing program and instead use these resources to speed the transition to a clean energy economy.

Thank you for considering my comments.

[Your Name]
[Your Address]
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