Offshore Energy Reform

On April 20, 2010, an explosion and fire aboard an oil drilling platform killed eleven workers and unleashed a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Beyond the immediate human tragedy, the Deepwater Horizon disaster has imperiled the ecosystem along the U.S. Gulf Coast and impacted residents who depend on a healthy Gulf of Mexico. The spill raises serious concerns about drilling in sensitive habitats from the Gulf to the Arctic Ocean, as well as broader questions of national energy policy.

In response to this environmental calamity, Pew is pushing for reform of both the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and the Oil Pollution Act and passage of the Coastal Jobs Creation Act. Congress should act to:

  • Improve agency oversight of  environmental protection, safety, and  management of oil development of our outer continental shelf;
  • Amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), which governs offshore mineral leasing and development, and/or its implementing regulations to ensure the environmental effects of oil and gas development, including cumulative impacts, are thoroughly reviewed and appropriately addressed;
  • Eliminate the statutory limits on liability for damages resulting from oil spills to ensure that the full cost of economic and environmental damages is recovered;
  • Amend the Oil Pollution Act, which governs oil spill contingency planning and response, to increase the timeliness and effectiveness of oil spill response and recovery; and
  • Suspend new oil leasing, exploration or production until new safety and environmental standards are adopted through legislation or regulation.

The environmental implications of the oil spill intersect with a number of the Pew Environment Group’s campaigns including securing protections for bluefin tuna, creating a national ocean policy, ending overfishing in the Southeast, protecting life in the Arctic, conserving sharks, addressing global warming and developing a clean energy policy.

View maps of how the oil slick overlays with habitats of several marine species.

The Pew Environment Group’s offshore energy reform work is now a part of Pew’s Arctic Ocean Program.

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