The following statement is from Earthjustice attorney Erik Grafe, who testified today before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power on the “Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011.” This proposed legislation seeks to exempt offshore oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean from important Clean Air Act protections.
“Just a week before the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon spill, Congress is considering legislation that would create loopholes for offshore drilling that endanger our health and limit public involvement in agency decisions rather than making the industry clean up its act. The ‘Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011’ is an oil industry giveaway. It seems that what the industry cannot accomplish by bullying the administration it is now attempting to codify in the halls of Congress.
“America’s Arctic Ocean is a remote, harsh region, home to some of the world’s most iconic wildlife species, including polar bears, whales and walrus. Native communities rely on the bounty of the Arctic Ocean for their survival. Offshore oil and gas development in these waters is increasingly threatening ocean species, and these activities have been rushed forward without adequate scientific data to analyze and manage their effects.
“The ‘Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011’ attempts to fast-track permitting of dangerous oil and gas development in the Arctic Ocean. An oil spill in these remote and icy waters would have catastrophic impacts and be nearly impossible to clean up; no technology exists that would effectively clean up oil spilled in icy Arctic waters. Congress should be encouraging comprehensive and scientific management of the Arctic Ocean to protect the health of its people and wildlife, not weakening health laws just for the convenience of industry. More broadly, Congress should be facilitating a clean energy future, not creating more loopholes for offshore drilling.”