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Pro: Moratorium allows government to revamp regulation, paves road for clean energy

JJ VELASQUEZ

By JJ VELASQUEZ
June 20, 2010 at 1:20 a.m.


Seadrift shrimper Diane Wilson doused herself in what was intended to look like oil during a June 9 Senate Energy Committee hearing.

Wilson admits she goes to great lengths to make people pay attention to what she describes as our addiction to oil. But ever since the gushing oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico captured the media spotlight, she doesn't need to bring attention to it.

"Finally, I get to talk about the issues I have been trying to scream about for the last 20 years," she said.

Wilson hopes the eventual outcome of the six-month offshore drilling moratorium, which calls an end to new drilling in water deeper than 500 feet, is a permanent ban on offshore drilling and a move to a cleaner energy source.

The moratorium came after cable news networks began showing a live feed of the leak, and news outlets around the world flocked to the shores of Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast to tell the stories of the environmental disaster.

"The writing's on the wall," she said. "If we have to be dragged kicking and screaming into a cleaner, greener energy source, we have to do it."

Donna Hoffman, a spokeswoman for the Texas chapter of the Sierra Club, agrees.

"Offshore drilling is not safe, and it may very well have caused the death of a large part of the Gulf of Mexico," she said. "We can't take that risk with our wildlife resources. It's extremely damaging to the economy of the Gulf region."

A native of Corpus Christi, Hoffman said Texas has many success stories when it comes to clean energy production.

Texas leads the nation in wind power generation, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Phasing out of oil as an energy source would not be economically problematic because clean energy will fuel a new green economy, she said.

Luke Metzger, spokesman for advocacy group Environment Texas, is not proposing the nation abandon oil as an energy resource. Rather, he hopes for a reduction in its use.

"Reducing our use of oil will have great benefits," he said.

Metzger said he hopes the president's commission conducts a thorough review of the government's permitting enforcement program to ensure that "agencies are a watchdog and not a partner of the oil and gas industry."

Related story: Con: Moratorium on offshore drilling stifles economic growth, increases our dependency on foreign oil

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