With each passing day, hardworking Americans are watching the price of gas climb higher and higher as oil executives watch their profits soar.
The oil industry and its allies are capitalizing on the pain at the pump that we’re all feeling. They’re using it to get their hands on more of our public lands and coastlines. On every front, they are pushing to lift the federal offshore drilling moratorium that has been supported by consecutive Congresses and presidents—including George Bush, Sr.— since 1981.
The oil industry claims that drilling off pristine beaches in Florida and Virginia will reduce the cost of gas for all of us who are struggling to drive to work and pick the kids up at school.
That’s simply not true.
The government’s own research shows that drilling our coasts won’t do anything to ease pain at the pump or create energy independence. New coastal drilling would not even reach peak production for twenty years, and even then, it would amount to a drop in the bucket on the world market, and would have an insignificant effect on gas prices.
It’s time to draw a line in the sand. We need to stop the giveaways to Big Oil and start investing in real solutions — clean, renewable energy and efficiency which will save us money and create jobs all across America. And it won’t require us to put the livelihoods of folks in our coastal communities on the chopping block.
The oil industry wants us to believe that offshore drilling is harmless. Nothing could be farther from the truth. To see what drilling would look like on our favorite beaches, we have to look no farther than Louisiana.
Thanks to drilling operations, Louisiana is losing 25 square miles of coastal wetlands each year, eating away at natural storm barriers that protect inland communities from hurricanes. Offshore drilling is particularly vulnerable to storms. The U.S. Coast Guard found that during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, nearly 9 million gallons of oil spilled from offshore drilling operations. There is no effective method for cleaning up large oil spills.
The honest answer to our oil problem is to use less of it, and that means better fuel efficiency and renewable energy. Americans need real energy choices that will bring down our energy costs, fight global warming, and secure the economic future of our families and the security of our country. By making the right choices now, we can be on the path to energy independence. The time is now to put America to work building a clean energy economy with jobs that can never be outsourced and benefit communities all across our nation.
By Melissa Hope, Sierra Club Assoc Regional Representative in Missouri and Jill DeWitt, Audubon Missouri Community Outreach Policy Coordinator