Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Open Letter: HR 4318

I will send the following letter to my Congressman and US Senators today:

Dear Representative Shays:
I urge you to support HR 4318, Representative Peterson's bill proposing to open the waters of the Outer Continental Shelf for natural gas drilling.

Although high oil imports have garnered greater attention than our natural gas supply, the latter is of more acute concern and presents fewer alternatives. Prohibitions on drilling and restraints on access have stalled the growth of domestic natural gas supplies and raised prices to a level between three and six times the historical average for this fuel. The consequences for American consumers and industry have been severe. In the winter of 2005-2006 we avoided gas curtailments only as a result of unusually warm weather, but this risk will return and grow with each successive winter season.

Residential purchasers of natural gas and electricity generated from gas are paying record prices, and a significant portion of the US chemical and fertilizer manufacturing sector faces extinction. Many facilities have already closed, costing thousands of jobs and increasing our trade deficit. This situation will only worsen if the large, and in some cases already identified, deposits of natural gas in the waters of the OCS, including those off Florida and California, remain off limits.

The environmental arguments against offshore oil drilling in sensitive areas simply do not apply to drilling for non-associated natural gas, which can be differentiated from oil deposits using modern seismic technology. The risk of a "gas spill" contaminating the shoreline is essentially zero. The opposition that remains stems from concerns about the intrusion of drilling platforms into the views enjoyed by tourists. Given the growing international competition for energy and the geopolitical challenges this accentuates, we can no longer afford to hold our energy security hostage to aesthetics.

Please support Congressman Peterson's bill and facilitate the continued growth of America's cleanest fossil fuel.

Update 5/19/06: Another setback for this idea, demonstrating clearly that even high energy prices and an urgent need for additional supplies can't overcome parochial and dysfunctional politics.

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