Response to Oil Industry’s Push to Expand Offshore Drilling in Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Waters
Statement from Oceana’s Dr. Michael Hirshfield
Press Release Date: March 16, 2011
Location: Washington, D.C.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) and its members are working double-time this week to increase anxiety among policymakers and ordinary Americans about rising fuel prices and their potential effect on the nation’s economic recovery.
In Congressional hearings and news coverage, we are likely to hear falsehoods and creative accounting from fossil fuel industry executives and lobbyists. Regardless of the API’s false messages about the need to drill to reduce fuel costs, economists have shown that drilling will not lower prices, and that reducing demand is more likely to have that effect.
“As long as we continue to rely on increasingly scarce fossil fuels, we will continue to see prices rise and fall. The only way to protect ourselves from future oil shocks is to kick the oil habit. The way to guarantee a steady, reliable stream of domestic energy is to invest in clean energy like offshore wind,” urged Dr. Hirshfield.
The House Committee on Natural Resources will meet on Wednesday, March 16. During this hearing, a few Members of Congress may decry the Administration’s so-called “de facto moratorium” in the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, oil and gas production has increased on the federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) since 2008.
And while the API ratchets up the volume of its complaints about the U.S. Department of Interior’s decision to protect the eastern Gulf of Mexico, oil companies are sitting on 5,094 non-producing leases.
The API has also been quick to blame high gas prices on unrest in the Middle East. Economists have argued, however, that the increases are more likely linked to increased global demand for fuel, especially from China and India. Regardless, it’s not a reason to ramp up domestic offshore oil and gas production, as it will have little effect.
“Leasing our oceans for new oil wells will not reduce gas prices. For the sake of our oceans and our children, we need to start ending the addiction, not feed it,” stated Hirshfield.
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