Following the federal government’s proposed expansion of offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and Arctic Ocean last month, actress Victoria Principal has stepped forward with extremely generous six–figure donations to both Oceana and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to support their joint efforts to prevent increased drilling off U.S. coasts.

This is the second gift Principal has given the organizations to support their fight to protect our coasts from offshore drilling and spills.

“Waiting until a disaster happens is waiting until it’s too late,” said Principal. “The strategy and campaign must begin now, in order to achieve success and prevent further devastation from increased offshore drilling and by imposing tougher standards and having improved safeguards firmly in place. I hope others will join me at this crucial juncture in the future of our oceans and our planet,” she added.

Principal’s contribution will support the organizations’ joint efforts to protect U.S. coasts from increased offshore drilling and spills. This includes the ongoing effort to prevent drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, as well as the campaign to require critical scientific assessments and demonstrated oil spill response capability in the Arctic before allowing additional leasing. And it will help the organizations fight Congressional action that might undercut these protections.

The gift follows significant contributions from Principal last year to support the organizations’ work in the wake of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The gifts successfully brought these two organizations together to harness their unified strength in the effort to enhance oil spill prevention and clean-up preparation efforts in Florida’s coastal communities. This included enabling NRDC and Oceana to place a state-of-the-art underwater robot off Florida’s Gulf Coast to detect any encroaching oil, in order to rally defenses before it reached them. It also helped Oceana launch its 2010 Gulf of Mexico Expedition, which set out to assess the long-term impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

“Americans watched in horror and disbelief as millions of gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico during the BP disaster nearly two years ago,” said NRDC President Frances Beinecke. “If we’ve learned anything from this tragedy, it’s that we must not allow it to happen again. Instead of digging ourselves into a deeper hole, we need to focus on shifting our country toward clean energy sources that cannot spill, run out or destroy entire communities and economies.”

“With her second extraordinarily generous contribution to Oceana and NRDC, Victoria has truly established herself as a leading champion for the oceans. Her latest pledge allows us to join forces once again to protect our precious American coastlines from offshore drilling and it comes at a pivotal time in our nation’s history,” said Oceana CEO Andrew Sharpless. “In the wake of the disastrous Gulf oil spill, and now on the heels of the Obama Administration’s 5-year drilling plan, Victoria’s contributions have been instrumental in allowing us to continue this fight.”

On November 8, the Obama Administration released a proposed 5-Year Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling Program that included expanded offshore leases in the Gulf of Mexico and America’s Arctic Ocean. While the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts remained protected, the oil industry and many members of Congress are expected to increase pressure to expand leasing areas in the final plan.

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