Reinstate Moratorium on Offshore Drilling

Target: President Obama

Goal: To reinstate the moratorium on offshore drilling.

In 1982, in response to Unocal’s (now Chevron) oil platform spill, which caused environmental damage on a level never before seen by the American public, the federal government placed a moratorium on offshore drilling. This moratorium was given an extra level of protection in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush who extended it until 2002, and then again by President Bill Clinton who extended the moratorium until 2012. In September 2008, President George W Bush lifted the presidential moratorium, which prompted then-presidential candidate Barack Obama to reverse his stance on offshore drilling and accept the possibility of more offshore drilling in the future. In 2010, for the first time since the ban was placed 28 years prior, President Obama announced that he would allow for new offshore drilling projects to take place in the following years. The moratorium of offshore drilling should be held because the risks far outweigh the potential costs. Offshore drilling is responsible for human deaths, environmental damage, and pollution.

The number of deaths and injuries among offshore workers has been hidden from the public, but is constantly increasing as the number of offshore blowouts increase. For Chevron, there has been a death on the job in four out of the last five years (2006-2010) for offshore workers in the Gulf of Mexico. In the year 2009, 15 incidents of fire and 9 employee injuries were reported at its Gulf of Mexico offshore operation. Employee death and injuries are the result of massive blowouts, which have steadily been on the rise since 2005. These blowouts, which pose a massive danger to offshore workers, has not been properly evaluated and remedied by oil companies such as Chevron, due to a resistance to direct revenue to ensuring safe and effective offshore drilling sites.

A moratorium on offshore drilling is also necessary due to the amount of damage and pollution drilling does to the environment. From 1998 to 2007, offshore oil producers released more than 6,500 barrels of oil a year into U.S. waters. This amount was 64% more than the annual average during the previous ten years. From 1964 to 2009, oil spills left more than 520,000 barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico. Aside from the damage done to oceans by offshore drilling, this method of oil extraction also generates more than 214,000 pounds of air pollutants a year. The waste released into the air included materials such as nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, benzene, arsenic and zinc. Lastly, oil and gas operations are responsible for destroying 60% of wetlands and coasts in the Gulf. The methods in which oil operations are carried out result in the gradual dying of plants, the intrusion of saltwater onto land, wetland erosion, and increased periods of flooding and drying. These operations affect eco-tourism, local fisheries and everything else in between.

Because of the damage, destruction and loss created by offshore drilling, it is important that a moratorium be placed on offshore drilling to prevent future disasters and deaths from occurring. The disaster that occurred on April 20, 2010, should have been a lesson in halting all offshore oil operations. The effects of the BP oil spill are still present today and have affected those living on, in and from the Gulf waters. Urge President Obama to reinstate the moratorium of 1982 that bans offshore drilling projects.


Dear President Obama,

In September 2008, President George Bush lifted the 1982 moratorium that forbade offshore drilling. Riding the political currents of the time, you then reversed your stance on offshore drilling and announced that you would consider new offshore operations. Despite the many human risks involved and environmental damage offshore drilling causes, in 2010, you announced that you would allow for new drilling for the first time since the placement of the 1982 moratorium. The moratorium on offshore drilling should be reinstated due to the many environmental and health risks it poses.

Offshore drilling is responsible for human deaths and injuries, environmental damage, and widespread pollution.  As the number of blowouts increases, so does the number of human deaths and injuries. Offshore drilling is also responsible for releasing 214,000 pounds of air pollutants a year and for dumping 6,500 barrels of oil a year into ocean waters. In the Gulf of Mexico alone, 520,000 barrels of oil were released between the years 1964 to 2009. Lastly, offshore drilling is responsible for destroying 60% of the wetlands and coasts due to the methods in which oil operations are carried out.

In order to protect the environment, reduce the amount of pollutants released into the air every year, and save human lives, current and future offshore drilling operations should be put under a moratorium, the same moratorium that was instated in 1982. The long-term risks and negative effects of offshore drilling far outweigh the short-term financial benefits. It’s time a moratorium was placed that bans offshore drilling operations.


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One Comment

  1. There should be no moratorium on offshore drilling. It should simply be forbidden, now and for ever.

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