Offshore Drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf?

Feature story - March 10, 2006

For 25 years, a battle has raged to reverse the offshore drilling moratorium that protects our most sensitive coastal national treasures.  A contentious vote this week has brought the issue to the forefront, as all eyes are on Congress to see if America's coastlines are presented to Big Business on a silver platter.

On March 8, the U.S. Senate Energy Committee voted 16-5 to open nearly three million acres of federal waters to energy exploration development.  The waters, located 100 miles off the Florida coast in the Gulf of Mexico, serve as a critical nursery for a multitude of fish in the Gulf Stream.  Drilling would not only disrupt the fragile environment, but also the tourism industry.

Floridians aren't happy about the proposal - not that anyone has asked them.  The Minerals Management Service, the agency pushing to drill in the area, plans to hold 13 public hearings on the issue - none of which will be in Florida.

But Florida Congress members are not keeping quiet.  Twenty-one House members from Florida wrote to Interior Secretary Gale Norton on March 6 to express opposition to the plan, and Florida's senators are against the plan as well.

The constant debates over drilling for oil and gas - whether it's off Florida's coasts or in Alaska's Wildlife Refuge - are as unnecessary as they are controversial.  We have the ability to meet our energy needs through clean, renewable sources like wind and solar.  It's time to make the switch to sustainable energy sources and keep the drills out of our protected land AND our sea.