Economics for the Earth Blog

25 years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, lessons remain lost on Congress

Posted Mar. 24, 2014 / Posted by: Kate Colwell

Fossil fuel exports on the rise as Obama administration considers lifting U.S. crude export ban

Washington, D.C. – A quarter century has passed since the worst marine oil spill of that time occurred, marring 1,300 miles of Alaskan coastline with at least 11.7 million gallons of crude oil. Despite the tragic damage to the ocean, wildlife and people, to say nothing of the score of spills since, the oil industry and its supporters in Congress are pressuring the Obama administration to rescind a 40-year old ban on the export of U.S. crude oil. Lifting the ban would unleash a flood of oil tankers on our ports, significantly increasing the risk of another disaster.

“The Obama administration is turning a blind eye to the anticipated climate and environmental impacts of exporting fossil fuels like Bakken shale and Powder River Basin coal from the U.S., while at the same time touting a climate plan that claims to reduce our damaging impact here at home,” said Marcie Keever, Friends of the Earth’s Oceans and vessels program director. “On top of that, the administration may actually be considering lifting the ban on U.S. crude oil exports, which would exponentially increase climate change and the risks of more Exxon Valdez and Gulf oil spill disasters.”

A new infographic called “Gateway to Extinction” from Friends of the Earth and Healthy Planet/Healthy People details the potential threats posed by the proposed fossil fuel export terminal and pipeline projects in the Northwest. It also shows how lifting the ban would exponentially increase those threats.

Additionally, a recent analysis conducted by Oil Change International found that “eliminating existing regulations on crude oil exports could result in additional greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 42 coal fired power plants.” Friends of the Earth believes that U.S. progress towards climate change mitigation requires rejecting policies that encourage increased extraction of dirty fuels, shifting resources from fossil fuel extraction projects to renewable energy projects, and leaving carbon reserves in the ground.

“The Obama administration’s ‘all of the above’ energy strategy here at home and the attitude that we can export climate change to other countries is irresponsible and short-sighted,” Keever said. By increasing our export of dirty coal and dangerous Bakken shale and tar sands, we will continue to allow Big Coal and Oil to dictate our environmental policy and lead us down the path towards catastrophic global climate change. It is time for the U.S. to stand up to these dirty industries and enact measures that will lead us to a real clean energy future.”

For more information about Friends of the Earth’s efforts to protect the safety of our oceans and the coastal communities that depend on them, visit foe.org/news/blog.

Friends of the Earth makes two experts available for commentary on this and related issues:

Marcie Keever, Friends of the Earth’s Oceans and vessels program director, can discuss fossil fuel exports and the increased risks posed if the U.S. crude oil export ban is lifted.

Fred Felleman, Friends of the Earth’s Northwest consultant, is a noted orca biologist and can comment on the lingering impacts of the Exxon Valdez spill on the orca population, as well as potential extinction risks should a similar spill occur in the Puget Sound.

###

Contact:
Marcie Keever, Oceans and vessels program director, (510) 900-3144, mkeever@foe.org
Fred Felleman, Northwest consultant, (206) 595-3825, felleman@comcast.net
EA Dyson, Communications director, (202) 222-0730, edyson@foe.org

« Back to main page

Take Action

SAVE THE BEES

Tell EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to ban bee-killing neonic pesticides.

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook