Press Statement
June 14, 2010

High Stakes: CBF Opposes Gambling with the Bay's Future—
Calls for National Energy Conservation Mandate

Statement of William C. Baker, President, Chesapeake Bay Foundation

"The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) applauds the leadership of Senators Mikulski and Cardin and Congressman Cummings. And we thank President Obama for his decision to halt the sale of new leases for offshore drilling until the investigation of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is complete. However, we think the moratorium on drilling off the Mid-Atlantic region should be permanent.

"And we call on the President to challenge the American people to conserve. We can drive less, buy more fuel-efficient cars, and conserve energy at home and business. The Gulf oil spill's silver lining can be a national commitment to do the one thing which will immediately reduce our reliance on foreign oil and oil from environmentally risky deep-water drilling. The one thing all of us can do is CONSERVE. The President must challenge us, inspire us, and lead us to break our addiction to oil.

"For four decades, CBF has taken an absolute uncompromising stand against any addition or expansion of the oil industry on the Chesapeake Bay. While two huge battles against oil refineries in the 1970s were met with extreme criticism, supporters in both cases later agreed that oil refineries in their particular locations (Baltimore and Hampton Roads) would have been unwelcome, "like a snake at a picnic" as one proponent later editorialized.

"In 1978, in response to the refinery proposal, I wrote in a New York Times op-ed opinion piece, "We are now about to gamble these renewable, aquatic resources for a single nonrenewable petroleum resource."

"When President Obama called for the opening of oil and gas drilling leases off the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay on March 31, 2010, CBF immediately responded with our opposition.

"Offshore drilling creates a new pollution source, one capable of significant, even devastating environmental damage from drilling, transportation, storage, or refinement.

"The waters off the mouth of the Bay are indistinguishable both biologically and hydrologically from the Chesapeake. Ninety percent of the blue crab population utilizes those exact waters during the early life cycle stages. The crab larvae can float miles out into the ocean at the top centimeter of the water column (vulnerable to even the smallest oil spill) after they are spawned at the mouth of the Bay.

"Just as science tells us that the waters of the Bay's great tributary rivers are an integral part of the Chesapeake system, so too are the offshore ocean waters, which actually account for more inflow to the Bay than all of the rivers combined. Bottom line, when oil is handled around the water, it inevitably gets into the water. The quantity is determined by the inevitable human errors and technical shortcomings."

For more information on CBF's position on offshore drilling, visit


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