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Marirose Pratt: A cleaner energy future

It’s been just a year since the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Rather than focus on enacting much needed safety and environmental reforms, Rep. Goodlatte wants to open Virginia’s waters to drilling, as if last year never happened (“Goodlatte bill would push offshore drilling off Virginia waters,” April 6, 2011).

The notion that more offshore domestic drilling will solve high gas prices, as suggested by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, is a pipe dream. Oil is priced and sold on the world market, and the U.S. controls just about 2% of the world’s reserves. No matter how many oil rigs we set up in our oceans, we cannot drive down gas prices at the pump.

Rep. Goodlatte neglects several other fundamental facts. The U.S. oil industry had a banner year in 2010 in terms of production volumes and profits; nevertheless, our price per gallon steadily climbed. While the industry whines for access to more places in which to drill, it’s sitting on the 41 million acres it already has but is not using. Importantly, the U.S. Navy has repeatedly stated its opposition to offshore drilling in Virginia, as it would interfere with critical training operations it conducts in our waters.

Virginia’s existing tourism and fishing sectors rely on clean beaches and healthy marine habitat, and would be jeopardized by developing a dirty fossil fuel industry on our coast, or worse, by the devastation of an oil spill. Investing in affordable alternatives to oil and in greener transportation systems will generate nearly four times more jobs than spending the same amount on oil energy resources, according to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Center for American Progress.

As Virginians, we would do well to remember the BP disaster, and push for a cleaner energy future.

Marirose Pratt is an associate attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center.


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