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.