Drilling Secretary Salazar - Oceana USA
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December 11, 2009

Drilling Secretary Salazar

BY: jsavitz

This is the fourth in a series of posts from Copenhagen. Check out the rest here. – Emily

Secretary of Interior Salazar spoke here in Copenhagen about the great work that the Department of the Interior is doing to advance carbon reductions. He also promoted things like carbon sequestration and clean coal technology, which are basically really expensive, long-shot strategies for getting carbon out of coal emissions and getting carbon back underground where it belongs. He also noted that we could get 20% of our electricity from wind by 2030, and that the Danes, our hosts, were already doing so!

The Secretary’s timing for being here was great — he had just opened up one of the most productive areas of Alaska to exploratory drilling, a mistake that was not lost on some of the Alaska natives who were there and were very quick to ask him about the Chuckchi decision. (Read more about Oceana’s reaction to the decision.)

I was lucky enough to ask the Secretary a question as well, which he deferred to his Deputy, David Hayes. I asked him the following: With all this interest in stopping carbon emissions and sequestering carbon below ground, was he considering as part of the solution just leaving some carbon in the ground by making expanded drilling into previously protected areas, like the west coast of Florida, off limits?  I pointed out that doing so would make resources that would otherwise be used for drilling available to help develop the offshore wind he referred to earlier.

Needless to say, the question was not exactly answered. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the Administration does on the Florida drilling issue. But it was great to have the opportunity to ask it in the context of the climate Conference…. where the whole point is what to do with the carbon we’ve already released. It seems to make sense that part of the answer would be to facilitate the development of renewable energy, and not expand our offshore drilling footprint. Hopefully, he now has a reminder that this would be a good answer when the time comes.