After proclaiming this "House Energy Week," the House will spend the day discussing a bill that will promote the fossil fuel industry and damage the environment with little to no impact on America’s energy dependence. House leaders have let down the American people this week by using their platform to hollowly acknowledge that Americans are waiting for answers but not actually discussing viable, sustainable energy solutions.
The House will vote on the Offshore Exploration Bill (H.R. 4761) today, which will open up new areas of the Outer Continental Shelf for oil and gas drilling. Currently, a federal moratorium prevents drilling within 200 miles of the American coastline, but this legislation proposes to allow drilling up to 50 miles from shore. Although the Florida state legislature rejected similar, though less invasive, legislation last year, lifting the moratorium on off-shore drilling could allow for some oil rigs to be built as close as three miles from the shore. With drilling this close to land, even the smallest spills will have serious effects on the coastal environment and its inhabitants. According to the Sierra Club, this legislation “is by far the slowest, dirtiest, most expensive way to meet our energy needs.”
Currently, fuel companies only lease 10 percent of the 328 trillion cubic feet of available natural gas drilling locations. This legislation would make available some of the 78 trillion cubic feet of restricted locations. If Congress wants to get serious about developing alternatives that will positively impact Americans, it must turn its attention to actual solutions.
In February, the Center for American Progress offered a three-step plan to boost the economy, reduce oil consumption, and protect the environment:
- Provide farmers the financial tools and expertise to shift towards the production and processing of energy crops.
- Transform the transportation sector by mandating that all passenger vehicles run on high blends of biofuels and gasoline — or flex fuels — within a decade and expand tax incentives for gas stations that install biofuel pumps.
- Recognize the threat of global warming by enacting a national carbon cap and trade mechanism that allows farmers and drivers to benefit from the production and use of biofuels that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Center for American Progress has done extensive research in these policy arenas. Many of our proposals are now under consideration in the Senate. This week the House should have used its “Energy Week” to show Americans that it is willing to develop new solutions that will reduce our energy dependence and promote a cleaner environment.
Read about more of our suggestions:
Check out the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s campaign: