Release: Sanders Says Gulf Oil Spill Highlights Need for Energy Alternatives

WASHINGTON, May 3 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a member of the Senate energy and environment committees, said today that the looming economic and environmental disaster from a massive oil spill along the Gulf coast underscores the need to develop safer and cleaner energy sources. 

“The oil spill is a devastating reminder of the perils of relying on offshore drilling for fossil fuels to meet the nation’s energy demands,” Sanders said.

“Just as with nuclear technology, with offshore drilling it is not enough to do it safely 99.9 percent of the time because one mistake can lead to disaster. The risk to our oceans, our wildlife, our fishing industry, our beaches and the thousands of jobs that are lost when a disaster strikes is just not worth it,” Sanders said. “It is time to move away from fossil fuels and move to energy efficiency and clean sustainable domestic energy.”

gulf oil spillThe April 20 fire on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers. “I am mindful that this disaster has caused the loss of lives, and our thoughts are with the families of those workers,” Sanders said. “At the same time, events like this are the reason I consistently have opposed offshore drilling.”

Sanders reiterated his long-standing opposition to offshore drilling as recently as a March 26 letter encouraging more emphasis on cleaner and more efficient energy sources, including solar, wind, geothermal and biomass.

The Gulf of Mexico spill that is still spreading about 5,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the damaged well now threatens the health of the marine environment in the region, impacts recreational fishing and jobs in the commercial fishing and the seafood industry, and could widely affect hundreds of species of wildlife from shrimp and crabs to migratory birds. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration closed all recreational and commercial fishing in the affected area. At the current rate of oil leakage, the spill could overtake the 1989 Exxon-Valdez spill as the largest in U.S. history.

The United States today consumes about 25 percent of the world’s oil, but holds only 3 percent of the planet’s petroleum reserves. The nonpartisan Energy Information Administration has reported that opening U.S. waters for drilling will not yield significant consumer savings on gasoline prices. In fact, offshore drilling would only save about 2 cents per gallon in 2030. Much greater savings could be achieved through better fuel economy standards.

“It is my strong view that the solutions to our energy crisis are energy efficiency, advanced vehicle technologies, and a bold move to clean and sustainable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass. These efforts would create, over a period of years, millions of new jobs and secure energy independence for our nation,” Sanders said.