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Protect the Georges Bank – And Other Coastal Waters Too

A couple days ago, an important piece of legislation was introduced to the House of Representatives. The Georges Bank Preservation Act, H.R. 790, would prevent oil companies from establishing offshore drilling operations on the Georges Bank, a very biologically productive area off the coast of New England. Speaking on Monday of the need for this protection, U.S. Representative Ed Markey said,

“Last year, as a result of opposition from the Bush Administration, the longstanding protections against drilling off the east and west coasts expired. As a result, the American people could now begin to see drill rigs as close as three miles to our beaches and in fragile ecosystems like Georges Bank. Allowing oil and gas drilling in Georges Bank would forever destroy this fragile ecosystem and our nation’s most important fishery.”

What Congressman Markey said is true, in a sense, but it isn’t the whole picture. Yes, George W. Bush let the moratorium on expanded offshore drilling to expire. It wasn’t just President Bush who took part in that expiration, however. Many Democrats in Congress, including Barack Obama, supported legislation to allow expanded offshore drilling. Now, as President, Barack Obama continues to support the expansion of offshore drilling.

This isn’t a partisan problem, and it’s not just something that we can pin on Bush. Democrats as well as Republicans have been helping the big oil companies to sate their hunger for new offshore drilling platforms – and not just on the Georges Bank, but all up and down America’s coastlines.

It’s great to see Representative Markey introduce the Georges Bank Preservation Act, but why is the legislation only protecting the Georges Bank? What about the other coastal waters that are newly vulnerable to the damaging effects of oil drilling?

Many activists on the left are turning a blind eye to this problem. The same people who blasted George W. Bush for attempting to expand oil drilling are remaining silent as Barack Obama attempts to preside over expanded offshore drilling. Why? Is it because Barack Obama is popular? Does a bad idea become acceptable when it’s promoted by a popular president?

Our oceans are in severe crisis, not just because of pollution, but also because of overfishing and climate change. It’s irresponsible to ruin the marine resources of tomorrow in order to fill the gas tanks of today. If we Americans would attempt to conserve, we could get along quite well without nearly as much gasoline as we consume today, and we could have it at a much cheaper price – without expanded offshore drilling.

By all means, let’s encourage Congress to pass the Georges Bank Preservation Act, but let’s continue to push to hold back offshore drilling in other parts of our national waters as well.

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