In his address to the nation last week, President Obama almost got it right.
He described his vision for America’s clean energy future, which includes wind, solar, and other renewable sources, in addition to energy efficiency.
But his vague entreaties for progress on this most crucial of issues left out vital specifics and he stopped frustratingly short of saying what is on the minds of so many of us in the wake of the tragic and seemingly endless disaster in the Gulf: it is time for a ban on offshore drilling.
When he introduced the creation of a commission to investigate the causes of the Deepwater Drilling Disaster, the president displayed the same stale mindset that has plagued so many before him: that through improved technology we can make safe what is inherently an unsafe, dirty, and dangerous practice.
We don’t need to improve offshore drilling: We need to ban it.
The President’s claim that the spill was a result of increasingly risky drilling as a consequence of a shrinking oil supply displays a short memory as to the scores of known spills that have occurred in shallow water and on land, and through transporting oil.
Indeed, previous to this disaster the biggest oil spill in American history was the Exxon Valdez in 1989, which had nothing to do with diminishing supply.
Why, one might ask, is the President forming a commission to investigate solutions to offshore drilling technology, rather than forming a commission to investigate the best ways to move forward with renewable energy technology? Why is he on the one hand saying that we “cannot consign our children” to a future of fossil fuel energy, while on the other hand signaling a continued commitment to that very thing?
President Obama is right when he says that “the time to embrace a clean energy future is now.” He clearly understands that this is the future of energy, and we must take immediate steps in this direction. But he is frustratingly short on specifics on the matter, and his pledge to never allow another oil spill like this one to happen again lacks credibility.
There is only one way to credibly make that promise: ban offshore oil drilling now.
Matt Dundas is the Campaign Manager of Oceana's Climate and Energy Campaign.