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Greenpeace Supports the Clean Coasts and Efficient Cars Act of 2010

by Robert Gardner

June 2, 2010

Even as BP’s wellhead continues to spew its toxic brew, defacing miles of pristine coastline, Congress is apparently powerless to conjure a legislative fix for the threats to America’s coasts. We need to learn a deep and profound lesson about what exactly our national priorities are.

Greenpeace image: BP Deepwater Disaster and oil spill0
Greenpeace has been bearing witness to the BP Deepwater Disaster and oil spill for the past month. Click here to read more blogs, view videos and more images.

The most recent “comprehensive climate legislation,” the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act, is not the robust legislative protection for America’s coastlines that we so clearly need. Giveaways to the fossil fuels industries, nuclear subsidies, and junk emissions reduction targets are not the way to move forward.

While we still have no clear estimate of the total impact from the BP Oil Spill on the Gulf’s fragile ecology, fisheries, or tourism, we continue to wait for guidance from our elected officials. And though the picture may be bleak, at least one Senator has seen an opportunity to pivot from this disaster and help to end our disastrous dependence on dirty fossil fuels.

While the legislation does not call for a complete ban on drilling all of America’s coasts, we stand behind S.3433, the Clean Coasts and Efficient Cars Act of 2010, introduced by Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Congress should act to protect all of America’s coasts, including Alaska and the entire Gulf of Mexico. This legislation begins moving us toward that goal by protecting the coasts of the Atlantic, Pacific, Central Gulf, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico from a catastrophe like the BP Deepwater Disaster, which has already spilled millions of barrels of oil in the Gulf. Significantly, the bill recognizes an important step we can take to reduce demand for oil — raising fuel economy standards for gasoline powered vehicles.

Although we use 25% of all oil produced, the United States’ oil reserves represent only 3% of the global total. The result is that we already import about two-thirds of the oil we use. Because we simply do not have enough oil, offshore drilling cannot increase energy security – but more drilling can and will destroy ecosystems and coastal economies. A strategy to increase energy security for this generation and the future will only succeed if the focus is on developing renewable energy, increasing efficiency and reducing oil demand in our transportation sector. By increasing fuel economy, this legislation will reduce our demand for dirty oil, whether it is obtained from foreign countries or risky offshore drilling.

Sanders’ bill would set a fuel economy standard of 55 miles per gallon, up from an average of 35 mpg that American carmakers must achieve by 2030 under current law.

In Europe, by contrast, cars already get the equivalent of 42 mpg and by 2020 cars in Europe will be required to get at least 65 mpg. Why, in a rich and industrious country like America, can’t we also have the benefits (both environmental and price-wise) of such comprehensive legislation?

The time to act on climate change is now. We will let you know how you can support Sen. Sanders’ bill in the weeks to come. In the meantime, write to Congress and tell them to put a stop to dangerous and expensive offshore drilling off all our coasts.

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