At a news conference today, Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that the department would extend the public comment period on the draft five year plan for oil and gas development that the Bush administration put in place in its last days in office. Environment Ohio Program Director, Amy Gomberg issued the following statement in response:
“We applaud the Interior Department for taking a fresh look a President Bush’s ‘drill everywhere’ policies. First, last week, Secretary Salazar prudently restored protection for 130,000 acres of pristine lands near Nine Mile Canyon, Arches National Park and Dinosaur National Monument in Utah that had been leased for drilling by the previous administration. Today, we are pleased to see that Secretary Salazar is slowing the Bush administration’s plan to barrel ahead with oil drilling off our coast. The fact is: More efficient vehicles, mass transit, and clean energy will cut pollution and reduce dependence on oil far more effectively than more oil drilling will.
“Secretary Salazar and President Obama understand that we must break our addiction to oil by increasing efficiency and shifting to clean alternatives and, from the first days of this administration, have pursued exactly those policies. Two weeks ago, the president announced plans to raise the fuel economy of our cars. His economic recovery plan creates jobs by improving mass transit, which produces one-third of the pollution of automobile travel while creating 19 percent more jobs per dollar than spending on new highways. These cheaper, cleaner and faster policies reduce short-term oil demand and costs while also providing long-term solutions to our energy needs. President Obama’s clean energy solutions do not require us to put our favorite beaches at risk.
“Even the Energy Information Agency under President Bush acknowledged that drilling for every last drop of recoverable oil off our coasts would have little to no effect on gas prices. Environment America is confident that, with careful consideration, the Obama administration will conclude that drilling offshore is not worth the risk. We urge president Obama to permanently protect our treasured seashores and marine resources by reinstating the off-shore oil drilling moratorium.”
Environment Ohio is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working for clean air, clean water and open space. www.environmentamerica.org