With the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico and onto our coastlines making it increasingly clear that we are facing an epic and unprecedented crisis, more than 20 national and Gulf Coast organizations released an open letter to President Obama urging him to adopt five specific principles as the administration continues efforts to combat the enormous short term, intermediate and long term challenges before us.
Full text of the letter below:
Dear Mr. President,
With every passing day, it is increasingly clear that the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico and onto our coastlines from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig is an epic and unprecedented crisis. Now more than ever, we need bold leadership from you personally as well as from staff throughout your administration to combat this disaster of a lifetime.
We believe your administration should adopt the following principles as you continue your efforts to combat the enormous short term, intermediate and long term challenges before us. As you know, we are eager to assist you in all aspects of this massive undertaking.
Stop the gusher -- We recognize that your administration is working round the clock to stop the gusher, and we commend your commitment to doing so. We know that you will continue to employ all tools at your disposal to stop this catastrophe, which has already wreaked havoc in the Gulf with the potential for far worse to come.
Now is not the time for new drilling -- The disaster in the Gulf, and the conduct of companies like BP, is a painful illustration of the perils of offshore drilling. We urge you to restore coastal protections for areas currently not leased for off shore oil and gas drilling and cancel exploratory drilling permits for the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.
Make the Gulf communities and environment whole -- Gulf coast communities, which supply 30 percent of the nation's wild caught seafood and still have not recovered from Hurricane Katrina and subsequent storms, are suffering from this oil drilling disaster. Gulf coastal wetlands have been under assault by the oil industry for half of a century, and this disaster will further destroy them. The federal government and BP must be held accountable to restore the communities and environment of all of the affected areas. More specifically, impacted communities should receive full compensation for financial losses, all health expenses from medical care and missed work for clean-up workers and other affected people should be covered, legal and translation skills should be provided to assist with compensation and wetlands should be restored.
Demand more accountability and transparency from government and industry -- There is a clear consensus that there has been a failure in oversight and access to information. The administration must completely rethink the regulatory relationship and the requirements regarding drilling. There should also be a comprehensive safety review of all existing offshore wells. In addition, BP and the federal government must immediately release all information regarding the response to the spill including: spill size and impacts, any and all data regarding the chemical properties and impacts of dispersants, as well as contamination testing. Oil companies and other responsible parties -- not taxpayers or those affected -- should be liable for the full costs of cleaning up the spill and compensating the victims.
End dependence on oil and move to a new clean energy economy -- Your administration and Congress should commit the nation to a path that ends our dependence on oil. You should immediately put policies in place to dramatically cut our oil use. Most urgently, you should speed the transition to a clean energy economy by enacting comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation that creates jobs, makes America energy independent, and reduces global warming pollution.
We believe our collective response to this ongoing catastrophe has fallen far short thus far, but we look forward to working with you to dramatically ramp up our efforts in the coming days, weeks, and months. With the potential for environmental and economic devastation for decades to come, we must leave no stone unturned as we as we work together to prevent the worst consequences in the Gulf and avoid similar disasters in the future.
Cindy Shogan, Executive Director
Alaska Wilderness League
Daniel Magraw, President
Center for International Environmental Law
John DeCock, President
Clean Water Action
John Kassel, President
Conservation Law Foundation
Rodger Schlickeisen, President
Defenders of Wildlife
Trip Van Noppen, President
Margie Alt, Executive Director
Fred Krupp, President
Environmental Defense Fund
Erich Pica, President
Friends of the Earth
Phillip Radford, Executive Director
Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Chief Executive Officer
Green For All
Cynthia Sarthou, Executive Director
Gulf Restoration Network
David W. Hoskins, Executive Director
Izaak Walton League of America
Gene Karpinski, President
League of Conservation Voters
Marylee M. Orr, Executive Director
Louisiana Environmental Action Network/Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper
John Echohawk, Executive Director
Native American Rights Fund
Frances Beinecke, President & CEO
Natural Resources Defense Council
Vikki Spruill, President & CEO
Andrew Sharpless, CEO
Michael Brune, Executive Director
William Meadows, President
The Wilderness Society
Kevin Knobloch, President
Union of Concerned Scientists
Peter Bahouth, Executive Director
U.S. Climate Action Network