The following is a press release issued today by Oceana:

Oceana Cries Foul Over Rumored Expansion of U.S. Drilling from Coast to Coast

In response to the suggestion that the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman approach to climate legislation will include expanding offshore drilling into previously and currently protected areas, Oceana offers the following statement from senior campaign director Jacqueline Savitz:

“While we have not been privy to the actual legislation, we are extremely concerned and perplexed about reports suggesting that the climate bill will expand offshore drilling into areas that were previously protected, and even more egregious, into areas like the waters off Florida’s west coast that are currently protected by law.

Climate change is expected to cause devastating global impacts, including food and water shortages, severe weather and major ecological disruptions. In some areas, this will lead to territory loss, drought and famine, thus creating climate refugees and national security threats that concern U.S. military leaders.

These threats, caused by our consumption of fossil fuels, demand that we break our oil and gas addiction and shift to a clean energy future. The best solution is to focus on expanding renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

While there is a continued need for fossil fuels today, there is plenty of oil and gas remaining and accessible in offshore waters that are already industrialized. According to the Minerals Management Service, there is more undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas in the Western and Central Gulf of Mexico than in the rest of the country combined. The U.S. Energy Information Agency has shown that drilling for oil and gas in previously protected areas will not make us independent of foreign oil. Besides, these fossil fuels won’t be available for many years. Instead, focusing now on clean, renewable energy sources would make this expanded offshore oil production unnecessary. According to government estimates, the oil in these areas will save consumers only pennies at the pump, if that.

We are addicted to oil. The push to open previously protected areas off the west coast of Florida and the entire east and west coasts of the U.S. is unnecessary. It represents a greedy grab by the oil industry. It’s akin to offering an addicted smoker more cigarettes and claiming it’s a way to help them quit. Instead, it makes quitting harder and worsens the effects. Expanding offshore drilling from coast to coast would make it harder to stave off climate change, while worsening its impacts.

Oceans can be part of the solution. By expanding investments in offshore wind development, the U.S. could expand its energy generation while reducing carbon emissions. These investments would also slow ocean acidification and the resulting damage to marine life.

There is no place for expanding oil and gas drilling in a climate bill. A climate bill should limit carbon releases, stimulate the development of renewable energy, and prevent hardship for those Americans who may be affected by increasing energy costs passed on by energy companies. The oil and gas reserves that remain in previously or currently protected areas, and oil in the fragile Arctic region, represent carbon dioxide that is not yet released into the atmosphere. We should leave it in the ground. Trading away healthy oceans and at the same time worsening the climate change problem with no clear gain to the American people is a fool’s bargain and one that we hope will not be in the legislation.”