The Obama administration announced Wednesday that it would not propose any new oil drilling in waters off the East Coast of the United States for at least the next seven years.
This announcement is a complete reversal of an earlier plan revealed just weeks before the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The March 2010 plan would have authorized officials to explore potential for drilling from Delaware to central Florida, plus the northern waters of Alaska, according to MPR News.
The new drilling plan for the eastern Gulf of Mexico comes just 3 months after the Obama administration put an early end to the deepwater drilling moratorium enacted after the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
“Drilling will continue in the central and western Gulf of Mexico, although under a set of new safeguards put in place after the deadly BP explosion and oil spill in April. Future gulf leases will be subject to further environmental and safety studies,” reports the New York Times.
Since the BP oil spill, residents and politicians in Gulf Coast states, as well as environmental protection organizations, have been begging the Federal Government to reconsider its plans to pursue expanded offshore drilling.
While this news reduces the danger of a repeat of the BP oil spill, which released an estimated 172 million gallons of oil into the fragile Gulf ecosystem, it doesn’t necessarily signal the end of the dangerous practice.
The seven year ban does not affect oil company plans to drill in Alaska’s delicate Beaufort and Chukchi seas despite the fact that there is currently no technology available to clean up a catastrophic oil spill in the icy Alaskan waters.
For now though, it’s important to celebrate this victory for the environment, the Gulf, and the clean energy economy.