Today is the end of the comment period on the Department of Interior’s Draft 5 Year Offshore Drilling Plan (2010-2015) which proposes new offshore oil and gas leasing at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, two other areas along the east coast and several areas along coastal California.

In response to the end of the comment period, Environment America Oceans Advocate Michael Gravitz issued the following statement:

“Today, Secretary of Interior Salazar will receive more than 270,000 reasons not to drill in new areas off the Atlantic or Pacific coasts or the eastern Gulf of Mexico. We hope Secretary Salazar listens to the more than a quarter million citizens from around the country who have said that more drilling is bad energy policy and bad for our oceans.

Offshore drilling is still a dirty and dangerous business that risks catastrophic damage and chronic pollution to our stressed oceans and beloved beaches. For example, an oil spill that started on August 21st off the coast of northwestern Australia is spilling an estimated 3,000 barrels per day, almost 4 million gallons of oil so far; and it won’t be stopped for another 2-3 weeks at the earliest. The drilling rig and platform are all the newest technology, having been built in the last 3 years, and yet we now have an oil slick in the Timor Sea covering parts of 7,500 square miles, equivalent to an area the size of New Jersey.

Instead of new drilling in places like Georges Bank, the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, Cape Hatteras, the Georgia Sea Isles or off pristine California coasts, this administration should continue to emphasize energy efficiency and renewable energy such as wind and wave power from our oceans. For example, the increased fuel economy standards announced by the Obama Administration last week will save us 1.3 million barrels of oil a day by 2020. An Environment America report to be released tomorrow will document more oil savings from increased investment in public transit. Finally focusing on developing renewable sources of energy in appropriate offshore areas will not pollute the ocean or atmosphere, will contribute to solving our global warming challenges decade after decade, and won’t make the problem worse like more drilling will.”

Surfrider Foundation also submitted comments on the draft 5-year offshore drilling plan and our action alert resulted in over 7,000 letters to Secretary Salazar.