WASHINGTON, May 27 - Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today that the United States must learn a profound lesson from the BP oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico and make certain we protect our oceans from future disasters and transform our energy system away from fossil fuels.
Sanders introduced legislation that would ban offshore drilling along America's ocean coastlines and increase fuel efficiency in American cars.
The measure would prohibit drilling in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and along Florida’s gulf coastline. A moratorium on drilling in those areas that Congress approved every year since 1982 lapsed in 2008.
Sanders’ bill also would set a fuel economy standard of 55 miles per gallon, up from an average of 35 mpg that American car makers must achieve by 2030 under current law.
An outgrowth of an Obama administration push to stiffen the standards, the detailed requirement proposed by Sanders would bring the United States up to par with China, Japan, Canada, South Korea and nations in Europe that already have more aggressive standards than the U.S. In Europe, for example, cars already get the equivalent of 42 mpg and by 2020 cars in Europe will be required to get at least 65 mpg.
The improved fuel economy would translate into a savings of $1.43 per gallon of gas. Opening all of America’s coastal waters to drilling would yield such a modest boost in petroleum supplies that the price of gas would dip by only 3-cents a gallon.
“Is 3-cents-a-gallon in the year 2030 worth the potential risk of another disaster like this?” Sanders asked. “I don’t think it is.”
The legislation already has drawn support from leading national environmental groups, including Friends of the Earth. “As the Deepwater Horizon disaster shows, new offshore drilling puts our coasts at unacceptable risk,” said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth.