BOEMRE (the agency responsible for making decisions about offshore oil drilling) will be holding public meetings around the country in coming weeks to take public comment on the next “5-year plan” in which they will analyze new drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Arctic Ocean.
Fortunately, on Dec 1 2010, the Obama Administration announced a deferment on new offshore drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific, near Floridas Gulf Coast, and in Alaskas Bristol Bay until at least 2017. 
The upcoming meetings are chances to tell BOEMRE we support the Administration’s decision to defer drilling; and that no new leases for drilling anywhere should be granted until after the recommendations of the Oil Spill Commission are adopted by Congress.  Some of the more important recommendations from the Commission report include:
  • Requiring better emergency response plans for offshore drilling operations
  • A stronger regulatory structure is in place to avoid spills. 
  • Ensuring science is used in decision-making about offshore leasing and allowing  chief scientists within the Interior Department to oversee leasing decisions
  • Lengthening the time for review of drilling applications to allow for more thorough assessment of the potential environmental and safety risks of the project.

 Below are some sample talking points you can include into your testimony:
  1. We support the Obama Administrations recent decision to defer new offshore drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific, near Floridas Gulf Coast, and in Alaskas Bristol Bay until at least 2017.   Its critical we protect areas that have not been exposed to the risky practice of drillingnot only for the sake of the environment, but also to protect our economy from potential spills.
  2. The Oil Spill Commission and the Obama administration have worked to ensure the oil industry is safer and more environmentally sensitive.  We greatly appreciate these efforts, and we want to stress that the safest drilling is no drilling. We should work to protect our coasts permanently by reducing our oil dependence while transitioning to sustainable forms of energy.
  3. Please consider not approving new leases in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic until after Congress adopts the recommendations of the Oil Spill Commission (see above for important points). 
  4. For future oil exploration, please consider the harmful environmental impacts of seismic surveying; and equally consider alternatives to seismic testing that will exist in the near future.
  5. We want to thank the Administration, Department of Interior, the Oil Spill Commission, and BOEMRE for working to protect our oceans and coasts from devastating impacts of offshore oil drilling.  We applaud your efforts to hold the oil and gas industry to higher standards in hopes of preventing another destructive spill like we witnessed with the BP Deepwater Horizon.

Below is a list of meetings near your neighborhood:
  • Monday, February 14, 2011 at 7:00 pm- Kotzebue Middle-High School, 744 Third Avenue, Kotzebue, Alaska.
  • Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at 1:00 pm- Houston Airport Marriott at George Bush International, 18700 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Houston, Texas
  • Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at 7:00 pm: Point Hope School Library, Point Hope, Alaska
  • Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm: New Orleans Airport Hilton, 901 Airline Dr., Kenner, Louisiana, 
  • Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 7:00 pm: Point Lay Community Center, Point Lay, Alaska
  • Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 1:00pm: Five Rivers-Alabama’s Delta Resource Center, 30945 Five Rivers Blvd., Spanish Fort, Alabama
  • Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 7:00pm: Alak School Library, Wainwright, Alaska
  • Monday, February 21, 2011 at 7:00 pm: Inupiat Heritage Center, Barrow, Alaska
  • Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 7:00 pm: Nuiqsut Community Center, Nuiqsut, Alaska
  • Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 7:00 pm: Kaktovik Community Center, Kaktovik, Alaska
  • Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 1:00 pm: Washington Dulles Airport Marriott, 45020 Aviation Dr., Dulles, Virginia.
  • Friday, February 25, 2011 at 7:00 pm: BOEMRE Alaska Region Office, 3801 Centerpoint Dr., Anchorage, Alaska

If you would like additional help with talking points, please email Stefanie at:  Ssekich@surfrider.org