The Senate will vote this week on legislation that will promote the fossil fuel industry and damage the environment with little to no impact on America’s energy crisis.

The Deep Sea Energy Resources Act (H.R. 4761), passed by the House last month, seeks to open up new areas of the Outer Continental Shelf for oil and gas drilling. The bill will lift the federal moratorium preventing drilling within 200 miles of the American coastline and allow for drilling within 50 miles of the shore.

The Florida state legislature last year rejected lesser invasive legislation regarding offshore drilling, yet the passage of this bill could allow for some oil rigs to be built only three miles from their shores. 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.”

Fuel companies currently lease only 10 percent of the 328 trillion cubic feet of available natural gas drilling locations. This legislation will lift the restrictions on some of the 78 trillion cubic feet of currently prohibited locations.

Offshore drilling is a hollow solution; its passage by the House and consideration from the Senate does a disservice to Americans who are waiting for real, sustainable answers to the energy crisis.

In February, the Center for American Progress offered a three-step plan to boost the economy, reduce oil consumption, and protect the environment:

  1. Provide farmers the financial tools and expertise to shift towards the production and processing of energy crops.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. As the Senate considers opening coastal areas that have been protected for 25 years this week, we urge it to show America that Congress is serious about finding sustainable 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:

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