In his speech yesterday before the House of Representatives, Congressman John Shimkus recognized the terrible problem created by the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and then asked his colleagues to oppose efforts to prevent a repetition of the accident. Speaking against a temporary moratorium on the expansion of offshore drilling, Shimkus complained, “The people of Louisiana have suffered a lot of catastrophes: the BP explosion, fishing industry’s down, the tourism industry is down. Now, to add insult to injury, we have the moratorium which is costing thousands of jobs in Louisiana.”
The people of Louisiana have suffered. The people of Alabama and Mississippi and Florida have too. All the American people have lost a tremendous resource as the natural riches of the Gulf of Mexico have been fouled. The pollution from this one offshore drilling disaster will persist as an economic drag for generations.
Politicians like John Shimkus have suggested, however, that our government ignore the clear risk, and continue down the same path of expanded offshore drilling, as if nothing has happened. They don’t merely want to continue with the offshore drilling that exists, but to significantly expand drilling into more dangerous deep waters off the coasts of more states, from Maine down to Florida, and along the Pacific Coast as well.
Shimkus and his allies argue that we need to continue to create new risky deep water offshore drilling operations because there are jobs related to the creation of oil rigs. Those jobs, however, are unsustainable to begin with. They depend upon an ever-expanding number of offshore drilling platforms, in ever-more-risky conditions.
The truth is that, under a moratorium on new offshore drilling, jobs aren’t destroyed. They’re transfered to other energy sectors. As drilling slows down, sustainable energy resources and conservation infrastructure will need to expand, and jobs will be created to make that work possible. As long as our nation is working on finding energy, there will be jobs. Shimkus describes a choice between jobs and no jobs. The real choice that we face, however, is a choice between jobs that create a cleaner, more sustainable economy, and jobs that maintain the dangerous, dirty economy of the past.
John Shimkus has argued in favor of maintaining the dangerous, dirty fossil fuel economy of the past. Why? Ideological resistance to environmental concerns may be part of his motivation. The record shows, though, that money also appears to enter the equation. For the current election cycle alone, Representative Shimkus has taken $37,000 from political action committees aligned with the fossil fuel industry, and thousands more from people who work for oil and gas companies.