Judge Finds Taylor Energy Improperly Limited Third-Party Review of Information Surrounding Ongoing Oil Spill


Photo credit: United States Coast Guard

 

As oil slick appears to grow larger, company violates terms of settlement agreement

NEW ORLEANS, LA — September 22, 2016 — United States District Judge Susie Morgan ruled today that Taylor Energy was not correctly following the process required by the September 2015 settlement agreement with Waterkeeper Alliance, Apalachicola Riverkeeper and Louisiana Environmental Action Network, represented by the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic. The agreement resulted from a three-year lawsuit that sought to lift the veil of secrecy on the oil leak’s extent and potential far-reaching impact on the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystem.

On August 5, 2016, the groups discovered that Taylor Energy had secretly objected to the release of certain documents related to the leak, and in recent months, SkyTruth, a group that uses satellite imaging to track issues, has been reporting that the oil slick from the Taylor Energy leak appears to be growing larger, reaching over 40 miles in June, the longest slick recorded at the site since SkyTruth began tracking it in 2010.

Following is a statement from Larissa Liebmann, staff attorney for the Clean and Safe Energy Campaign at Waterkeeper Alliance:

“Judge Morgan agreed with our plain-language reading of the settlement agreement and has ordered the parties to work on a clarifying addendum to facilitate transparency by Taylor Energy. This will ensure that Taylor Energy cannot attempt to avoid third-party review of documents it wishes to keep from the public under the guise of not understanding the terms of our agreement. Especially in light of reports by SkyTruth that the oil slick at Taylor Energy’s site appears to be growing larger, and the silence from the federal government on what should be done, it is imperative that the public has access to information on this ongoing disaster. ”

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The groups encourage the public to review further information about the Taylor Energy oil leak.


About Waterkeeper

United as one powerful force, Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community's right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. For more information please visit waterkeeper.org

Taylor Energy: Still Leaking Oil and Still Secretive


taylor energy

As oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico appears to intensify, Taylor Energy breaches terms of its settlement agreement.

Despite signing a settlement agreement in September 2015 that requires increased transparency around the oil leak that has been ongoing since 2004, Taylor Energy is attempting to limit third-party review of what information should be kept confidential. As Taylor Energy endeavors to shield itself from public scrutiny, work by Skytruth shows alarmingly large oil sheens at the site of the leak.

On August 5th, Waterkeeper Alliance, Apalachicola Riverkeeper, and Louisiana Environmental Action Network discovered that Taylor Energy had secretly objected to the release of certain documents related to the leak. These were documents that the parties had requested from a federal agency under the Freedom of Information Act. We believe Taylor Energy’s attempt to suppress the release of these documents is a blatant breach of the settlement agreement, which was intended to lift the veil of secrecy surround the oil leak and response. The settlement agreement states that Taylor Energy can only object to the release of documents in limited circumstances, and must submit all ostensibly confidential documents to the Magistrate Judge for third-party review prior to objecting to their release.

Taylor Energy states that the documents at issue contain trade secrets with commercial value. These documents relate to the processes used by Taylor Energy to try to stop the oil leak. However, Taylor Energy is has not demonstrated that this information has any commercial value, especially considering that so far these attempts have been unsuccessful.

Just how unsuccessful these attempts have been is particularly clear in recent reports by Skytruth, a group that uses satellite imaging to track issues, such as an oil leak miles offshore, that otherwise could go unnoticed by the general public. In recent months, the oil slick from the Taylor Energy leak appears to be growing larger, reaching over 40 miles in June, the longest slick recorded at the site since Skytruth began tracking it in 2010.

As these alarming reports come in, the federal government still has not let the public know how it plans to make sure Taylor Energy is held accountable for this disaster, and, despite our urging, has not engaged the public in the decision-making process. We are committed to making sure that as much information as possible is available to the public. Therefore, with the help of our counsel at Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, we are taking Taylor Energy back to court to challenge Taylor Energy’s attempts to circumvent our settlement agreement. United States District Judge Susie Morgan will be hearing oral arguments on this issue on September 22nd.

*Photo courtesy of Tulane Environmental Law Clinic


About Waterkeeper

United as one powerful force, Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community's right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. For more information please visit waterkeeper.org

An Act of God: Taylor Energy’s Fatalistic Fairytale


"act of god", taylor energy, louisiana, gulf

On January 20, 2016, Taylor Energy held a public forum on the ongoing oil leak at its wells in the Gulf of Mexico. Lest anyone think that Taylor Energy believes it owes the public any sort of explanation about the more than a decade-old leak, the company’s President, William Pecue, repeatedly reminded the attendees that the forum was being held as part of a court-ordered settlement with Waterkeeper Alliance, Apalachicola Riverkeeper, and Louisiana Environmental Action Network. The overarching argument of Taylor Energy’s presentation was that nothing further can be done to stop the oil leak that continues to cause miles-long oil slicks in the Gulf, which has already received more than its fair share of oil and dispersants from the 2010 BP catastrophe.

"act of god:, act of god, taylor energy, gulf

Taylor Energy platform, destroyed duringh urricane Ivan (2004) is still leaking in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo by Jeffrey Dubinsky.

Throughout the forum, both Pecue and the experts hired by Taylor Energy consistently referred to the series of events that lead to the oil leak as an “Act of God,” using the term dozens of times. Essentially, Taylor Energy is arguing that Hurricane Ivan triggered a mudslide in the canyon that the wells were located in, and the event was an unforeseen natural phenomenon and there was no way for them to have been prepared for its effects.

However, documents show that Taylor Energy knew that exactly this kind of disaster was a possibility, and it was a risk they chose to take. The reaction of the press to Taylor Energy’s insistence on using the term “Act of God” repeatedly suggests that the public is unlikely to easily accept this deflection of responsibility. One article, titled “Oil exec says 10-year-old leak is God’s fault,” even ended up filed in the “Weird News” section of a news website.

While Taylor Energy’s claim appears extreme, it is unfortunately another example of the environmental risks that fossil fuel companies are willing to take in the pursuit of profits.  Fossil fuel companies want us to believe that accidents are largely unavoidable side-effects of our deadly fossil fuel addiction. They want us to throw up our hands and simply accept that our energy future depends on us sacrificing the environment and our health.

"act of god", taylor energy, louisiana, gulf

Michael Orr, Communications Director of Louisiana Environmental Action Network, on patrol in the Gulf.

Just as Taylor Energy’s decision to drill for oil in a mudslide-prone zone was not the fairytale result of an omnipotent higher power, most of the major fossil fuel disasters can be traced back to the enormous risks taken by fossil fuel companies in the pursuit of profit. Perhaps Taylor Energy was very unlucky when it rolled the dice and decided that profits outweighed the potential risk of an environmental disaster. However, when fossil fuel companies consistently take such gambles, and lose, we all pay the price.

If there is one thing that the Taylor Energy’s public forum taught me, it is that fossil fuel extraction continues to involve significant negative consequences that companies and the federal government are not equipped to handle. Even as Taylor Energy admits that there are some offshore oil disasters the simply cannot be remediated, the federal government has a lease sales planned in 2016 for areas in the Gulf of Mexico, and seeks to open up the Atlantic Ocean for offshore oil drilling. It is absurd for the government to go ahead with these plans, especially in light of the commitments made in the Paris Climate Agreement.

It is time we told fossil fuel companies and our federal government that we will no longer accept the damage to waterways and communities that happens as a result of oil drilling. We can, and must, do better for the environment and future generations. That is why Waterkeeper Alliance has joined a large coalition of groups calling on the federal government to stop all oil, gas, and coal leases, and keep fossil fuels where they belong: in the ground. Join us here.


About Waterkeeper

United as one powerful force, Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community's right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. For more information please visit waterkeeper.org

Taylor Energy Public Forum Highlights Serious Risks of Offshore Oil Drilling


taylor energy, offshore, offshore drilling, oil spill

Taylor Energy argues that oil leak simply cannot be stopped

New York, NY and Baton Rouge, LA – January 21, 2016 – Yesterday, Taylor Energy held a public forum in Baton Rouge that was required through a settlement with Waterkeeper Alliance, Louisiana Environmental Action Network, and Apalachicola Riverkeeper. At the forum in Baton Rouge, Taylor Energy argued that nothing more can be done to stop the ongoing oil leak at its wells in the Gulf of Mexico.

Some members of the public that attended the event expressed frustration that the forum was not a fully a public meeting because Taylor Energy required everyone to register, did not allow recording, and refused to answer questions unless they were written down and vetted first.

“These frustrations highlight the abdication of responsibility by the federal government on this disaster,” said Larissa Liebmann, Staff Attorney for Waterkeeper Alliance. “For years, the government was all too willing to comply with Taylor Energy’s attempts to keep information secret from the public, and continues to fail to engage with the public in its response to this leak. We need a truly public meeting organized by the federal government that addresses the concerns of the public.”

At the forum, experts hired by Taylor Energy presented information on the efforts to stop the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Like the failed attempts of General Electric to convince regulators not to make GE remove their PCBs from the Hudson River, Taylor Energy presented studies to support their assertion that trying to remove more of the oil-contaminated sediment and intervene in the unplugged wells would cause more environmental harm than leaving the leak as is. According to Taylor, the surface sheen is coming entirely from remnants of oil left over in the sediment, and no new oil is coming out of the wells. However, the Department of Interior has estimated that oil will continue to leak from the site for over a century, and available data on the rate of release in recent years has not shown a decline in the amount of oil entering the Gulf of Mexico, with the oil sheen often extending over 20 miles.

Throughout the presentation, Taylor Energy repeatedly referred to the destruction of the man-made oil rigs as an “Act of God.” Marc Yaggi, Executive Director of Waterkeeper Alliance, reacted to this assertion: “‘Act of God’ is a legal term that generally refers to an unforeseen natural phenomenon that has effects that could not been foreseen or avoided. However, when Taylor Energy acquired some wells at this site and was permitted to drill more wells, both Taylor Energy and the Federal Government had access to a study that warned of the risk of destructive mudslides on the seabed during events such as hurricanes.” When asked about this study at the forum, Taylor Energy declined to comment, citing ongoing or potential litigation.

It remains to be seen how the federal government will respond to Taylor Energy’s argument that the best course of action going forward is to do nothing. Even though GE spent millions on an aggressive public relations and political campaign to convince government regulators not to make them clean up their PCBs from the Hudson River, regulators didn’t allow the company to walk away without cleaning up some of the water pollution they caused.

“Taylor Energy should not be allowed to walk away from this leak simply because they may have created a problem that is difficult and expensive to fix,” said Paul Orr, Louisiana Environmental Action Network’s Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper. “It raises serious questions because the Taylor wells were at approximately 480 feet deep, while those involved in the BP oil spill were at around 5,000 feet deep. If a company cannot completely stop the oil leaks that their man-made oil wells caused when they drilled through the sea floor to get to the oil at less than 500 feet, what will happen if there is this kind of disaster at 5,000 feet?”

Dan Tonsmeire, Apalachicola Riverkeeper reflected on his most important take-away from the assertions made by Taylor Energy: “It is not a question of whether there will be impacts from fossil fuel extraction. Rather, it always is a matter of determining just how bad the impacts will be. With oil spills, clean up is often determined to be worse than leaving the oil in place. Oil companies point to this in hopes that we will play along and allow them to keep up their risky practices and let them off the hook when things go wrong. It is time to call out the absurdity of this and just put an end to new permitting of offshore oil drilling altogether because we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground.”

Contacts: Tina Posterli, Waterkeeper Alliance, 516-526-9371, [email protected]


About Waterkeeper

United as one powerful force, Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community's right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. For more information please visit waterkeeper.org

Groups’ Push for Transparency Results in Public Forum on Taylor Energy’s Decade-Long Oil Leak in Gulf of Mexico


taylor energy

Opportunity for the public to assess response and impacts on ecosystem

NEW YORK, NY and BATON ROUGE, LA — January 11, 2016 — Taylor Energy will be hosting a public forum on January 20th, 2016 to provide information on the ongoing oil leak from its wells in the Gulf of Mexico. The forum is the result of a September 2015 settlement agreement with Waterkeeper Alliance, Apalachicola Riverkeeper and Louisiana Environmental Action Network, represented by the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic and the National Environmental Law Center. The court settlement ended a three-year lawsuit by the groups that sought to lift the veil of secrecy on the leak’s extent and potential far-reaching impact on the Gulf’s ecosystem.

On January 4, 2016, Taylor Energy filed a complaint against the Federal Government demanding the release of the remaining funds in a trust created to stop the oil leak. “Taylor Energy’s complaint asserts that it is impossible for the company to plug the wells without causing serious damage to the environment,” said Marc Yaggi, Executive Director of Waterkeeper Alliance. “Based on their determination that it is impossible to stop the leak, Taylor Energy is suing for a return of the remaining $432 million left in a remediation trust. This public forum presents an opportunity for the public to assess Taylor Energy’s assertions that nothing can be done to stop the leak and ensure that nothing more can be done.”

The forum will provide the public with an opportunity to hear from Taylor Energy about what caused the spill, its impacts to the Gulf ecosystem, and what Taylor Energy has done to remedy the problem. There will also be opportunities for the public to ask questions. Registration is required to attend the meeting, and should be done on this website. The website also has the agenda for the forum.

In June 2012, the U.S. Coast Guard ordered Taylor Energy to design and plan a new pollution containment dome system suitable for the MC20 leak, but the Waterkeepers have seen no evidence of such a dome installed at the site.

Paul Orr, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network’s Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper, stated: “This meeting brings much needed transparency to this environmental disaster. All concerned members of the public should come to learn about the full extent of the impacts of this spill, and we especially need people with specialized knowledge about oil drilling and remediation to come and press Taylor Energy to see if they really are doing all they can do to stop the leak and mitigate its impacts.”

As part of the settlement with the environmental groups, Taylor Energy waived confidentiality on a large number of documents, including studies assessing the impact of the oil leak and options for stopping it. The groups have made these documents available online ahead of the public forum. Dan Tonsmiere, the Apalachicola Riverkeeper, noted the importance of this information: “If scientists and engineers with knowledge about oil leaks are able to look at these documents and come to the forum, that would help the public know whether Taylor Energy’s assertions that this oil leak cannot be stopped are true. And if they are true, then the public should be fully aware that offshore oil drilling brings with it a risk of unstoppable oil spills.”


About Waterkeeper

United as one powerful force, Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community's right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. For more information please visit waterkeeper.org

Veil of Secrecy Finally Lifted on Taylor Energy’s Decade Long Oil Leak


taylor energy

September 3, 2015, New York, NY and New Orleans, LA — Today Waterkeeper Alliance, Apalachicola Riverkeeper, and Louisiana Environmental Action Network, represented by the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic and the National Environmental Law Center, signed a settlement agreement with Taylor Energy. This settlement signals the end of a three-year lawsuit intended to lift the veil of secrecy on an oil leak that has been ongoing since 2004 at Taylor Energy’s wells in the Gulf of Mexico.

As a key part of the settlement agreement, Taylor Energy agrees to provide information about the spill since it started in 2004 and open public access to information on an ongoing basis. For the first time in more than a decade Taylor Energy will publicly disclose what it has done to stop the oil leak. The settlement agreement bars Taylor Energy from continuing to broadly object to the release of information about the leak and its efforts to contain it.

This settlement will make it easier for the public to obtain information about the oil leak. If any person or news organization files a public information request with the federal government, Taylor Energy may only object to the release of the information if it is of significant commercial value and pertains to the engineering of the intervention wells or containment dome. Objections by Taylor Energy to releasing any documents requested by Waterkeeper Alliance, Apalachicola Riverkeeper or Louisiana Environmental Action will be reviewed by a Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana and the judge will make a final determination as to whether Taylor Energy must make the document public. This will empower the public to gain access to information, and illuminate the chain of events that led to the leak and the years of attempts to cap the leak. 

Marc Yaggi, Executive Director of Waterkeeper Alliance, explained the significance of this waiver of confidentiality: “When we began this lawsuit, the public was completely in the dark about what was happening with this ongoing oil spill. This agreement will provide much needed transparency, and therefore accountability, surrounding the response process. We hope that once the veil of secrecy has been lifted, independent experts will look at what Taylor has done so far and provide insight as to whether there is more that can be done to stop this spill.”

Apalachicola Riverkeeper Dan Tonsmeire noted that this information could provide important insight into the risks of offshore oil drilling: “The inability to stop the over a decade-long leak demonstrates the significant risks being taken by those in the oil drilling industry without clearly stating those risks to the public. The lack of assurances required by those permitting and overseeing drilling operations needs a serious review to ensure the public interest is protected at the oil industry’s expense, not at the cost of lost public resource value.” 

Taylor Energy will also be paying $400,000 to Supplemental Environmental Projects that will help study and mitigate the impacts of oil pollution on the Gulf of Mexico. $300,000 will be going to the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON), a research and education facility, for the purchase of hard assets such as boats and other research equipment. Another $100,000 will be provided to another organization to be agreed upon by the parties.

“The Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium was formed in 1979 and has a long history of conducting research and education programs on the environment and the health of the Gulf of Mexico,” explained Marylee Orr, the Executive Director of Louisiana Environmental Action Network and Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper. “We are excited that this Supplemental Environmental Project will help LUMCON study and mitigate the impacts of oil pollution on the Gulf.”

All parties in the suit agreed to petition the Federal Government requesting that it establish a transparent and public process for responding to the leak. If the Federal Government does not grant the petition, Taylor Energy agreed to host a public meeting to provide information on the leak and Taylor Energy’s response to the leak. Meeting participants will be allowed to ask Taylor Energy questions to which Taylor Energy will respond unless the information meets the criteria for confidentiality. Taylor Energy will post information on the presentations on a website and provide more information to an institution capable of storing it and providing public access for review. 

During the course of this lawsuit, Waterkeeper Alliance and partners prompted more accurate estimates about the amount of oil leaking from the wells to reflect far higher amounts than originally reported by Taylor Energy. This settlement in no way impacts Taylor Energy’s continuing obligation to address the oil leak. A resolution that stops the leak is everyone’s goal and will be closely watched as the final response plan is reached. The parties would like to thank Magistrate Judge Karen Wells Roby for her guidance in helping parties reach a settlement.

Contact:
Tina Posterli, Waterkeeper Alliance, [email protected], 516-526-9371

 


About Waterkeeper

United as one powerful force, Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community's right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. For more information please visit waterkeeper.org

Judge Allows Taylor Energy Case to Move Forward


taylor oil slick

NEW ORLEANS, LA — July 9, 2015 — Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan dismissed Taylor Energy’s motion for summary judgment, allowing Waterkeeper Alliance’s lawsuit over a decade’s long oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to go forward. Taylor Energy had argued that the case should be thrown out because the plaintiffs lacked standing. However, Judge Morgan rejected this argument and ruled that Waterkeeper Alliance, Apalachicola Riverkeeper, and Louisiana Environmental Action Network can prove at trial that their members in the Gulf region have standing on behalf of the organizations.

Ms. Larissa Liebmann, Staff Attorney for Waterkeeper Alliance, reacted today to the ruling: “We are very pleased that this case will continue to move forward, bringing us one step closer to finding a resolution to this ongoing spill. One very important aspect of the ruling is that Judge Morgan also rejected Taylor Energy’s insistence that it has done all it can do to address the spill. That means this case has the potential to resolve the dispute regarding whether Taylor can and should take further steps to stop the continued flow of oil into the Gulf. People who rely on the Gulf for water-dependent businesses, recreation, and tourism need clean water, not oil wells that may leak for over a century.”


About Waterkeeper

United as one powerful force, Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community's right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. For more information please visit waterkeeper.org

Judge Rules True Extent and Impact of Taylor Energy Oil Spill Can’t be Kept from the Public


Photo by John Wathen

Federal government and Taylor Energy have tried to keep secret the details of a spill that could bleed oil into the Gulf for a century

May 21, 2015, New Orleans, LA and New York, NY — Magistrate Judge Roby has ruled in favor of Apalachicola Riverkeeper, Louisiana Environmental Action Network and Waterkeeper Alliance, finding that Taylor Energy cannot keep from the public important documents about an ongoing spill into the Gulf of Mexico. The spill is the result of an underwater mudslide, which destroyed a Taylor Energy oil platform and buried wells during Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

Judge Roby ruled from the bench after oral arguments on confidentiality on Thursday, May 20, 2015, in an ongoing Clean Water Act case brought by the environmental groups in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. A formal ruling on the matter is expected later. In court, Judge Roby made clear that she believes the true extent and impact of the spill, and what Taylor Energy is or is not doing to address it, are matters of public concern.

Taylor Energy’s assertion of confidentiality prevented the details of this oil spill, including any remediation measures, from becoming public.  Recent reports from an investigation by the Associated Press indicate that the government and Taylor Energy have attempted to hide the information from the public. According to an Associated Press report,  “Only the broad outlines of the company’s response work are known. The government has agreed to keep many details under wraps in the name of protecting the company’s trade secrets.”

This report also revealed that a fact sheet written by the Interior Department estimated that oil could leak from the Taylor Energy site for full century or more if not adequately addressed. Yet, Taylor Energy asserted that no further remediation is needed, attempting to keep confidential the information on what the company has done to try and stop the spill.

“One of the goals of this lawsuit was to get information about this ongoing oil spill out in the open,” said Marc Yaggi, executive director at Waterkeeper Alliance. “We are glad that Magistrate Judge Roby agreed with us that a company should not be allowed to cause environmental disasters and then hide information about it from the public.”

“This is an ongoing and far-reaching environmental disaster.  All of the fish that migrate around the Gulf’s perimeter will continue to encounter this oil spill year after year and this will no doubt have a harmful impact on both recreational and commercial fishing interests,” said Dan Tonsmeire, Apalachicola Riverkeeper.

Paul Orr, the Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper of Louisiana Environmental Action Network, added: “As we looked into this situation, it became clear that Taylor wanted to keep it as secret as possible, they made no bones about the fact that they did not want the public to know about what was happening. We strongly believe that when public resources like the waters and fisheries of the Gulf are affected by private enterprise that the public has a right to know what is happening and that their interests should be represented. The U.S. Government has failed at it’s responsibility to inform the public and represent their interests and that is where Waterkeepers come in, to restore the democratic principles we seem to be losing to corporate power.”

The groups will share further information once a formal ruling has been issued.

Contact:
Tina Posterli, Waterkeeper Alliance, [email protected], 516-526-9371


About Waterkeeper

United as one powerful force, Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community's right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. For more information please visit waterkeeper.org

Groups Urge Public Process for Ongoing Taylor Energy Oil Spill


taylor oil slick

NEW ORLEANS, LA — April 23, 2015 — Apalachicola Riverkeeper, Louisiana Environmental Action Network and Waterkeeper Alliance today petitioned the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Coast Guard to request public participation in the response to an ongoing oil spill from the destroyed Taylor Energy oil platform. The groups are also requesting public disclosure of facts and data underlying the spill and a proposed response plan.

The Taylor oil spill has been ongoing in the Gulf of Mexico for more than 10 years, after an underwater mudslide destroyed the platform and buried wells during Hurricane Ivan in 2004. The Associated Press recently exposed the secrecy surrounding Taylor Energy’s response to the leak and government complicity in keeping this information from the public. Particularly concerning in this report was evidence that the oil spill is far worse than both Taylor Energy and the government have publicly reported.

By filing this petition, the groups hope to prompt greater transparency regarding what is being done to address this ongoing environmental disaster. Based on documents that the Department of Interior and the Coast Guard have withheld from the public, Taylor Energy claims that the agencies agreed that the best course of action going forward is for Taylor Energy to do no further remediation. But this decision, and the basis for it, has been kept secret from the public.

A finding by government agencies that the Taylor oil spill cannot be abated raises serious questions about the nation’s ability to manage the risks from deepwater drilling.

“For over a decade, oil has been flowing continuously from this site, while the public is kept in the dark about its impacts and what, if anything, is being done to stop the leak,” said Marc Yaggi, executive director at Waterkeeper Alliance. “Instances like this and the BP spill raise serious concerns about companies’ abilities to stop leaks from rigs. With this record of performance in the Gulf, why would we even contemplate opening up the Atlantic to oil drilling?”

The groups are petitioning the Department of Interior and the Coast Guard to announce immediately that they will:

● Suspend any final decision-making processes until completing a process of vetting the relevant information and considerations in public view;

● Promptly disclose and make available on a Web site the data and information that would inform any final decision on response to the Taylor Oil Spill; and

● Provide for a public hearing and a public comment period before deciding on a final resolution to the Taylor oil spill.

Contact:
Tina Posterli, Waterkeeper Alliance, [email protected], 516-526-9371


About Waterkeeper

United as one powerful force, Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community's right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. For more information please visit waterkeeper.org

Our Oceans, Our Future | Dive Into Democracy


offshore drilling

Our coasts are under grave threat from the Trump administration catering to fossil fuel companies. The land under the ocean off of our coasts is considered public lands, which means the federal government is in charge of deciding how they are used. Under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the federal government decides what offshore areas are open to oil and gas drilling. The federal government also decides where oil and gas companies can use seismic blasting, a practice known to harm marine mammals and other marine life, to explore for reserves of oil and gas under the ocean floor.  

President Trump’s Executive Order, “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth,” aims to vastly expand the areas open to offshore drilling – in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans, and the already embattled Gulf of Mexico. The order requires agencies to prioritize fossil fuel interests above all else when deciding whether to create marine sanctuaries, and even rolls back safeguards that were put into place in response to the devastating Deepwater Horizon BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Because of this order, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has begun the process to allow more exploration and drilling. At the same time, Congress has responded to this order with a number of bills on offshore drilling, some seeking to aid it and others aimed at stopping its advancement.

Offshore drilling companies have proven that they can not be trusted to operate safely and responsibly. The Gulf of Mexico continues to be plagued by small but frequent oil spills, and the Taylor Energy oil leak – which has been ongoing for over a decade – has been declared “unstoppable” by the company. Oil spills and other leaks have devastating impacts on marine life and coastal economies, and coastal communities have broadly opposed drilling off their shores through municipal moratoriums and other actions. Furthermore, to avoid catastrophic climate change, we need to keep a vast majority of our fossil fuels in the ground. We must transition away from fossil fuel extraction, not increase it.

This week, please call your Members of Congress and request that they oppose the expansion of offshore drilling:

“My name is [YOUR NAME] and I am a resident of ZIP code [ZIP CODE]. I am calling today to express my concern about expanding offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling. Our offshore areas belong to the public, and should be managed in the way that benefits the most of us. Expanding offshore drilling will only help fossil fuel companies, while putting coastal communities and our global climate at risk. Therefore, I am asking you to push back against efforts by the Administration to expand offshore drilling and seismic blasting. I know that there are a number of bills introduced in Congress on offshore drilling, and I hope that you will lend your support to those that that will halt the expansion of drilling. Thank you for standing up for our oceans and our future.”

Tip: Your message will be even more impactful if you you include a personalized example of why you are opposed to offshore drilling.

Locate your Senators and Representative

ex: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, DC 20500


About Waterkeeper

United as one powerful force, Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community's right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. For more information please visit waterkeeper.org