Burgeoning oil disaster exposes need for immediate halt to new offshore oil

Despite unfolding catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, Shell Oil plans for new offshore drilling in Alaskan Arctic move forward

Media release - May 14, 2010
While news reports reveal official estimates may be underestimating the quantity of oil spreading into the Gulf of Mexico, Greenpeace is on the Gulf Coast conducting independent assessment of the environmental impacts and calling for an immediate stop to new offshore oil drilling. Yesterday, Shell Oil moved closer to begin exploratory drilling in the Alaskan Arctic this July as a federal appeals court rejected efforts to block the plan.

"As countless millions of gallons of crude oil continue to spread into the Gulf of Mexico with no end in sight, it is outrageous that plans for Shell to move forward with offshore oil drilling in pristine waters of the Alaskan Arctic have not been stopped," said John Hocevar, Greenpeace Oceans Campaign Director, "The courts have failed to protect the Arctic from the oil industry's continued assault, so now it's up to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to pull the plug on this risky and potentially disastrous plan."

On the Gulf Coast, Greenpeace oil expert Paul Horsman is providing independent assessment of the impacts of the ongoing disaster, including aerial surveys, documentation, and monitoring in the Mississippi Delta and Gulf of Mexico on Greenpeace's boat, the "Billy Greene."

"The Deepwater Horizon tragedy shows that BP is conducting a massive experiment both by drilling so deep and by it's attempts to stop the spill," said Paul Horsman, Greenpeace oil spill expert, "Unfortunately these experiments, with unknown consequences have so far proved disastrous, and could have grave implications for the people who live around the Gulf of Mexico, the economy, and the environment. Allowing drilling to move forward in the Polar region in the face of the tragedy unfolding in the Gulf is at best foolhardy."

Today, citing reports questioning the credibility of BP's estimates of the magnitude of the spill, Rep. Edward Markey-D MA sent an investigatory letter to BP to gauge the true amount of oil flowing into the Gulf.

"It is hard to find credible what we are hearing from BP and the government considering that some reports show conservatively the spill could be 10 times larger than what BP is saying," said Damon Moglen, Greenpeace Climate and Energy Campaign Director, "Greenpeace commends Rep. Markey for his inquiry and we demand that the government take control of providing credible information to the pubic."

Notes: To arrange an interview with Greenpeace oil experts on the Gulf Coast, in Washington DC, or Alaska, please contact Joe Smyth, Greenpeace Media Officer, , 831-566-5647 Paul Horsman is a marine biologist with over 25 years experience at the forefront of campaigning on environmental and peace issues in many countries across the globe. Paul’s first oil spill encounter was in 1979 as a marine biologist working in the UK, and since then he has responded to oil spills all over the world including the Exxon Valdez. Video, photos and more are available at http://www.greenpeace.org/stopdrilling