MOSCOW, August 20 (RIA Novosti) – The coalition of eleven US industry groups is pushing President Barack Obama to allow offshore drilling in “as many areas as feasible,” including the east and west coasts of Alaska, The Hill reported.
“Decisions on areas to include in the 2017-2022 [outer continental shelf] leasing program will have impacts into the future. Therefore, we believe that BOEM [Bureau of Ocean Energy Management] should fully consider all areas for inclusion in the program and keep as many areas as feasible in the draft proposed program,” the groups wrote in a letter to the US Department of the Interior.
The companies, including the American Petroleum Institute, oil companies Shell and Chevron and others, claimed that if works in the given areas are excluded, the US industry would not be able to estimate the potential oil and gas reserves, which could be used by the country in the future. They also stressed that safety measures “have improved dramatically since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.”
Following the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster BOEM allowed the US companied to conduct drilling only in the western two-thirds of the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska’s Cook Inlet and a few spots off California’s shore. As a result of an explosion in 2010 on BP’s platform Deepwater Horizon 11 people died and about five million barrels crude oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico. The accident turned into the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced.
Chevron Corp. stated that the areas where drilling works are being carried out now are not sufficient to satisfy the nation’s energy demands.
“This country can no longer afford to look to only the federal waters off the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to carry the burden of providing such a large portion of the offshore portion of our nation’s energy needs,” the company stressed.
Environmental groups, including Greenpeace, the League of Conservation Voters and the Natural Resources Defense Council, in their turn, opposed the idea to extend drilling areas saying the move would accelerate climate disruption.
“New offshore drilling and leasing in those areas would threaten billion dollar coastal economies, would open fragile and priceless coastal ecosystems to damage from pollution and spills, and would accelerate global climate disruption,” they stated.