America's heroin-like addiction to oil and all of its planet-threatening consequences continues. So what do Senators McCain and Dole want to do for all of us junkies? Why find us cheaper and more convenient dealers for our habit, of course.
It's really pretty amazing. After all we've learned and seen in recent years — a cooking planet, a poisoned environment, hundreds of thousands of people killed in a war to keep the oil flowing and the SUV's rolling, and all these "leaders" of our great Republic can propose is more of the same.
In case you had any doubts that the proposal to drill of the North Carolina coast is certifiably insane, re-read this statement from Elizabeth Ouzts of the group Environment NC from a couple of weeks back. It says it all:
Drilling off our coast won't lower gas prices and would harm NC's beaches
Statement of Elizabeth Ouzts, State Director
President Bush and others are calling on Congress to open up our shores to drilling for oil and natural gas. But opening up North Carolina's coast to drilling will do nothing to lower gas prices, and will only damage our Outer Banks and our other beaches.
Drilling for oil off of our coasts will not lower gas prices in the short term. Even if we began exploring the coast today, no oil would become available for another seven to ten years.
Drilling for oil off of our coasts will not lower gas prices in the long term. Oil prices are determined globally, and the United States is home to only three or four percent of the world's oil supply. Other nations-Germany, Canada, Japan, and others-that promote offshore oil drilling don't have lower gas prices.
Oil companies are utilizing less than 20% of the access to our shores that they already have. Oil companies have already leased over 40 million acres on the Outer Continental Shelf in areas not affected by the moratorium. Yet just over 8 million of those acres are in production. Indeed, four times more natural gas is available in areas that are open to drilling than in those affected by the moratorium.
Drilling for oil off of North Carolina's coast will harm our beaches and our tourist economy. There is always the risk of a catastrophic spill. But even if there aren't catastrophic spills, oil and natural gas drilling regularly releases carcinogens and other pollutants into the air and water-harming wildlife and polluting our beaches. The Outer Banks alone draws over 5 million visitors each year, fueling a vibrant tourist economy. The success of the tourism industry depends upon the cleanliness of our beaches.
The real answer to our oil woes is to use less of it. That means better fuel efficiency and renewable energy. A serious national commitment to clean energy will lower energy costs and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, including tens of thousands here in North Carolina.