With consumers feeling the pinch of rising gas prices at the pump, the House voted last week to expedite oil lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia. The bill was passed by a 266 to 149 vote, largely along party lines.
Memories are indeed short. The Deepwater Horizon disaster, which killed 11 people and spewed about 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, happened barely a year ago. How soon people forget the horrfying images of oil-covered birds and oil-stained waters, of flames and plumes of smoke.
“This vote ignores utterly the lessons of the Deepwater Horizon disaster that we need a much more careful approach to offshore drilling, and not rush headlong to open up areas for drilling simply to gain political points,’’ said Nat Mund, legislative director for the Southern Environmental Law Center. “Experts in industry, academia and government all understand that the rise in gas prices is tied to the world market and that we can’t drill our way out of it.’’
The truth is that increasing American offshore oil production will have little to no effect on prices at the pump. That’s why this measure appears to have less to do with consumers than with politicians and oil companies.
Photo: A drillship off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico in 2006. (Alex Brandon / Associated Press)