Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

Make Gulf spill an impetus for a new national energy policy

Source: The News Journal

By Senator Ted Kaufman

June 20, 2010

The ongoing crisis in the Gulf is another example of an unfortunate watershed in our history that will help force us to take a much harder look at our nation's energy policies.

The massive oil slick resulting from the spill now stretches across 3,500 square miles of the Gulf, threatening the entire coastline. It may devastate the vibrant Gulf ecosystems that support 73 percent of the nation's shrimp fisheries and make up 70 percent of wintering grounds for migratory waterfowl.

I have long raised concern that the perceived benefits of drilling in the waters along the Atlantic coast are not worth the risks of a Deepwater Horizon-like spill, which could irreversibly damage coastal ecosystems that support Delaware's critical tourism and fishing industries. For this reason, I strongly opposed a proposal announced in March to open these waters to new oil and gas leasing.

Thankfully, in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, the president retracted his proposal for drilling off the Atlantic coast and issued a six-month moratorium on all deepwater drilling. He has also taken decisive action to ensure those affected by the spill are compensated for their losses.

I'm pleased that, on Wednesday, BP agreed to a request from the White House and Senate Democrats to create an independently administered escrow account of $20 billion to pay for cleanup costs and claims for economic damages.

But beyond the cleanup and recovery effort, we must have the foresight to realize that it is time to stop paying lip service to the urgent need to end our reliance on oil and other fossil fuels, which hurts our economy, helps our enemies overseas and imperils our national security.

We should have learned this in the 1970s, when an energy crisis crippled the country. Instead, for decades the oil and gas industry and other corporate polluters have fought back against energy reform to protect their billions of dollars in profits.

If not today, what will it take for us finally to embrace a clean energy future?

Leaving the fate of our nation in the hands of hostile foreign nations is wrong. We must take control of our energy needs by accelerating our transition to a clean energy economy and developing alternative sources of energy that are made in America and work for America.

Instead of putting our coastal economies and ecosystems at risk by increasing offshore drilling, we should be investing in clean technology that will create a new generation of clean energy jobs, ensure a strong economic future and greatly enhance our national security.

Now is not the time for partisan politics. We must put our differences aside and work towards a new, clean energy future.

America cannot afford another massive oil spill, nor can we afford to continue sending $1 billion a day to foreign nations for oil -- some of which falls into the hands of those who are fighting our men and women overseas.

As the president said in his speech to the nation, the Gulf oil spill "is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now."

I pledge to work with my colleagues in the Senate to pass real, comprehensive energy reform.

We need an energy policy that cuts carbon pollution, creates clean energy businesses and jobs, holds polluters accountable and makes them pay.

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