Yesterday Oceana Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist Mike Hirshfield testified about the costs of offshore drilling before the House Committee on Natural Resources.
Here’s an excerpt of his testimony:
“Mr. Chairman, I wish you didn’t have to hold this hearing. For years, the oil industry has told us all that offshore drilling was safe. They repeatedly downplayed the risks and oversold the benefits. They tried to convince us that catastrophes like the Deepwater Drilling Disaster could never happen. I could easily fill my time with embarrassing industry quotes (like these.) I will spare you that.
We now hear calls for action to ensure that “this will never happen again.” We all wish that could be the case. But let’s be honest, we know another offshore oil drilling disaster will happen, caused by another unexpected combination of technological failure and human error. The industry is asking us to play a game of environmental roulette, and they are taking aim at a long list of targets. Will we see oil foul the beaches of the Atlantic seaboard next? The Pacific? The Arctic?
Four years ago, President Bush acknowledged that America is addicted to oil. Just last week, Senator Murkowski said “We all agree that we need to minimize our use of oil, but we will continue to need it for a long time.”
Unfortunately, the conversation seems to be all about how long we’ll continue to need it, not about when we get serious about minimizing it. But when do we start? America’s answer so far seems to be, we’ll start tomorrow. We’re acting like the addicted smoker, buying just one more pack of cigarettes, promising to quit but never doing it. So tomorrow never comes. The oil industry’s answer is much clearer--they’ll stop drilling for oil when all the oil is gone. If it is left up to the industry, our addiction will never end.
So the question remains: Will we learn the correct lesson from the Deepwater Drilling Disaster and finally end our oil addiction?”
Finally, he called on Congress to take three steps to set America on a course towards a new energy economy:
1. Immediately and indefinitely suspend all approvals, activities, and processes—other than current production—related to offshore drilling.
2. Ban all new offshore drilling and provide permanent protection for the areas previously subject to moratoria.
3. Pass legislation that provides for a more efficient, clean, carbon-free energy future that emphasizes the development of renewable sources of energy.