Richard Pombo

Offshore oil and natural gas production will devastate our beaches, wreak havoc on tourism, and destroy sensitive ecosystems. Unlike every other developed nation in the world, the United States cannot safely produce oil and natural gas on its outer continental shelf (OCS) to grow the economy without harming the environment. At least, that’s the age-old drone of opponents to increasing offshore energy production here at home. And, speaking as a cattle rancher, it’s all a load of bull.

Thankfully, according to recent polling data, most Americans know this to be the case, successfully demanding last year that their government remove the bans that prevented offshore energy production for nearly three decades. But not all of our elected leaders seem to have accepted this new reality. Later today, the secretary of the Interior will be in San Francisco – rallying support for the old line of reasoning that says economic gain cannot be achieved without environmental pain.

Interestingly, it’s an event being billed as a forum to help find new ways in which America can better and more efficiently utilize its abundant energy resources offshore to achieve key economic and strategic goals. But actions speak louder than words, and the only pro-energy action we’ve seen out of the new Interior Department to date is delay, delay, delay.

While the secretary is likely to stir up colorful protests in San Francisco today – with help from passionately ignorant environmentalist left - the facts governing our ability to safely and responsibly explore for energy resources offshore are far less controversial. The simple truth? We know there are abundant energy resources far off our coasts. We know how to reach them. And we know how to produce them safely, efficiently and without harming the environment.

Environmental activists are famous for trotting out images of the 1969 Santa Barbara spill, but a lot has changed since offshore energy development began so many years ago. Cutting edge 3-D seismic and 4-D time imaging technologies make it possible find oil and gas more accurately. That means less drilling, less disturbance and more resources. Equipment like storm chokes and new devices like blowout preventers—which would have prevent the Santa Barbara spill — are now standard operating gear.

Richard Pombo

Richard Pombo is the former chairman of the House Committee on Resources.