WASHINGTON, DC, June 1, 2010 -- President Obama today called the BP oil spill "the greatest environmental disaster of its kind in our history," saying the "catastrophe" is destroying or threatening "not just fishable waters, but a national treasure." He tripled manpower in places where oil is washing ashore and pledged that "we will bring those responsible to justice."
In response, NRDC President Frances Beinecke made the following statement:
"The runaway gusher that is poisoning fertile Gulf waters, killing fish, birds and other wildlife and destroying irreplaceable wetlands habitat is more than an environmental disaster. It's the catastrophic result of a failed energy policy.
"It's time for the Senate to pass comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation that will break our addiction to oil and move us toward more sustainable sources of power and fuel. For more than 40 years, presidents have been saying we need a national strategy to start the transition to the clean energy economy of tomorrow. Now we need to act.
"The president is right to beef up manpower where oil is washing ashore in amounts that have overwhelmed efforts to protect coastline and wetlands. He is right to have the Justice Department investigate this debacle with an eye toward litigation where needed. And he is right to strengthen regulations that govern offshore oil operations and to call a time-out in new offshore drilling pending the panel's findings, though we think the moratorium needs to be expanded to include shallow water sites and extended to allow time for commission suggestions to be implemented.
"Ultimately, though, these steps are simply ways to mitigate risks stemming from a failed energy system. The BP oil disaster is proof that we need to do what presidents have been urging for decades: put American innovation to work developing safer, cleaner more sustainable solutions to our energy future."
The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.3 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.