THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PROTECTING OUR OCEANS FROM OFFSHORE OIL DRILLING
To protect our oceans and coasts from the environmental risks of offshore oil and gas drilling, the President is issuing a directive extending the moratorium on offshore leasing for an additional ten years, and permanently barring new leasing in national marine sanctuaries.
Some portions of the Outer Continental Shelf off the coast of the United States contain oil and gas reserves. Over the years, some areas have been leased to private industry for oil and gas development. Offshore drilling, however, poses the risk of oil spills and other environmental damage. To guard against such risks, many citizens oppose new leasing off the coasts of their states.
Through a combination of executive and legislative action, many coastal areas are now closed to new leasing. The Department of Interior's latest five-year plan for the Outer Continental Shelf, adopted in 1997, effectively prevents new leasing in federal waters off most of the U.S. coast through 2002. In addition, the particularly sensitive areas encompassed by America's 12 national marine sanctuaries are protected from oil and gas drilling only to varying degrees.
To strengthen protections against the risks of offshore oil and gas development, the President is:
Issuing a directive under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act that prevents leasing of any area currently under moratorium prior to 2012. This extends by 10 years the protection currently provided by the Department of the Interior's leasing plan. The moratorium covers virtually all of the coasts of the North Atlantic, California, Washington, Oregon, southwest Florida, New England, the Mid-Atlantic and southern Alaska (the North Aleutian Basin). Permanently placing off limits all areas of the Outer Continental Shelf contained within existing marine sanctuaries. They include the Channel Islands and Monterey Bay sanctuaries in California, the Florida Keys sanctuary, Gray's Reef sanctuary in Georgia, and the Olympic Coast sanctuary off Washington.
The President's Directive prevents consideration of any of these areas for either exploratory or production leasing for any resource development in the waters of the Outer Continental Shelf. It does not cancel or interfere with existing leases. The 10-year moratorium covering most of the coast is consistent with the Administration's policy of allowing future review based on new science and technology that could allow safer development of the Outer Continental Shelf. The President has decided that because of their unique and sensitive ocean resources, the marine sanctuaries should be permanently protected from new leasing.