Some Long Island and Jersey Shore environmentalists reacted Friday with a collective "We told you so" to the Louisiana oil disaster and, while they welcomed President Barack Obama's decision to delay his plans to open the mid- and south Atlantic to offshore drilling, some wanted a permanent cancellation of them.
"Hopefully, this will kill the whole thing," said Jim Brown of Long Beach, conservation chairman of the South Shore Audubon Society, which opposes new activity in the Atlantic.
The areas in the mid-Atlantic under consideration for drilling appear on government maps to be at least 175 miles south of Long Island - no farther north than the Delaware Coast. Obama said in announcing the offshore drilling plans March 31 that oil and gas from the region could help reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil.
"This massive and historic tragedy is a clear call for our nation to move away from dangerous fossil fuels toward clean safe renewable energy," Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Farmingdale-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said in an e-mail.
Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action, a New Jersey-based group opposed to Atlantic drilling, noted that drilling wasn't likely to have begun before 2012 anyway, so Obama's temporary hold means little. "We want Obama's plan on March 31 to be withdrawn," she said.
Pressure on Obama mounted last night after BP's environmental impact analysis as part of its drilling application came to light, revealng that the company didn't believe such a massive spill possible.
The California-based Surfrider Foundation, whose local chapter has actively opposed any Atlantic drilling, said, "The unfolding catastrophe clearly illustrates that offshore drilling is not safe and new technology is not foolproof." Experts disagree on whether the spill will affect the prices of crude oil or refined products like gasoline. Oil futures rose 98 cents to settle at $86.15 in trading Friday, in part on such concerns.
Andy Lipow, president of the Houston consulting company Lipow Oil Associates LLC, said, "Oil prices are going up because the economic news coming out of the country is better." He says that, while imports of 55 million barrels a day of crude oil from abroad into terminals on the Gulf Coast could be disrupted, any resulting shortage of crude at refineries probably would trigger a release by the federal government of oil from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve.