Clean Energy Will Have to Wait till Next Year

Congress Lifts 26-year-old ban on coastal ofsshore oil drilling

WASHINGTON,DC(RUSHPRNEWS)10/15/08–Here’s the bad news: before it left on recess, Congress voted to lift the 26-year-old ban that protected our coasts from offshore oil drilling. The oil giants will now be allowed to operate as close as three miles off the spectacular coastlines of California, Florida, the Carolinas and other vulnerable states.

The pressure on Capitol Hill was intense. President Bush and Big Oil have been pandering to economically-stressed Americans for months, promising that “Drill Here, Drill Now” is the panacea for high gas prices. In the end, members on both sides of the aisle swore they were only doing the bidding of their constituents.

That may be, but those constituents are going to wake up tomorrow with a bad case of buyer’s remorse. Oil from new coastal rigs won’t reach gas pumps for ten years. When it does, the impact on prices will be negligible. In the meantime, our most beautiful beaches will face the threat of catastrophic oil spills, global warming will intensify, and oil companies will grow richer.

This summer’s oil shock was the loudest wake-up call we’ve had in thirty years. Congress could have responded by passing visionary legislation, championed by the NRDC Action Fund, to make cars get 50 miles per gallon and put millions of plug-in hybrids on the road, powered by a cleaner electric grid fed by renewable energy.

Galvanized by your support and activism, we fought hard for that vision of a clean energy future, but we couldn’t prevail in the face of so much political fear. Congress panicked, then doubled down on the Bush-Cheney energy fiasco by giving away our coasts.

Now the good news: this fight is far from over. For starters, coastal drilling can’t begin without a prolonged process of environmental review and lease sales. That task will fall to the next president. No matter who that is, I can promise you this:

any president who proceeds with coastal drilling will meet a buzz saw of legal opposition from our partner organization, NRDC.

And, in a sign of better things to come, this Congress did improve fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, and it did extend tax credits for solar, wind and other renewable sources of energy.

Come January, the NRDC Action Fund will be back on Capitol Hill making the case that America’s environmental and economic salvation lies in a high-tech, clean energy future — one that creates millions of jobs, cuts global warming pollution and kicks our oil habit once and for all. With the election season behind us and a new Congress awaiting us, I believe our cause will prevail in 2009.

I know we can count on you to make your voice heard in the new Congress. Thank you.

Frances Beinecke
NRDC Action Fund

P.S. You can help us stop coastal drilling and fight for clean energy legislation by making an online donation now: Your support will help us wage and win the next rounds in this battle to save our coasts and kick America’s oil habit.


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