WASHINGTON, D.C. – The following statement was issued by Ocean Conservancy’s CEO Janis Searles Jones (@InVeritas_Jones) in reaction to Secretary Ryan Zinke’s announcement of the Department of the Interior’s Draft Proposed 2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program:
“Secretary Ryan Zinke’s proposal to open the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic to new oil and gas development—including areas in the Northern Bering Sea that haven’t been made available for leasing in 30 years—fails on principle, science and stewardship.
“Just last year, more than a million Americans voiced opposition to drilling in the Arctic and the Atlantic. There is overwhelming opposition to oil and gas exploration in the Pacific and widespread support for protecting key areas of the Gulf of Mexico that are critical to the livelihoods of coastal communities.
“Americans rely on our ocean for economic well-being, recreation, food security and cultural continuity. The ocean is more than places for oil companies to increase profits, and giving companies and trade associations everything they want is neither responsible governance nor the way to sustained economic growth.
“This plan would allow oil and gas activities in areas that would be virtually impossible to clean up, should the worst happen. If a spill were to occur near Utqiaġvik (Barrow), Alaska, for example, the nearest major port of Dutch Harbor would be 1,300 miles away by boat. Even after responders arrive at the remote spill site, clean-up attempts may be hindered and safety jeopardized by intense storms, high waves, sea ice, seasonal darkness and volatile conditions.
“Ocean Conservancy believes this proposal is a bad deal for Americans and for our ocean. We will again join millions of Americans to reject opening up new areas to risky drilling and fight this attack on our ocean, good science and a transparent public process.”
Janis Searles Jones is available for comment upon request.