Last-Minute Measure Endangers Economy, Environment

Statement by Karen Wayland, Legislative Director, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

"Americans who care about preserving our precious coastlines in the Gulf of Mexico will be deeply disappointed to learn that the last act of the lame-duck Congress was to sneak in a measure endangering this fragile coast by opening up 8.3 million previously protected acres to oil and gas drilling.

"Certainly NRDC and many Americans want a commitment and funding for coastal restoration in the Gulf region, an area that suffered unprecedented human and environmental losses from Hurricane Katrina. Louisiana's wetlands provide crucial protection against hurricanes for New Orleans and other low-lying areas. In recent years, though, the wetlands have been eroding at dramatic rates, caused in large part by the web of oil and gas pipelines that crisscross the bayous. How ironic that Congress thinks that the way to pay for coastal restoration is to increase the amount of the very activity that led to massive wetlands losses.

"Rather than permanently redirecting oil royalties from off-shore drilling to the coffers of just four states, Congress should commit the necessary funds for restoration but should also make oil and gas companies pay their fair share for repairing wetlands and pay their full share of royalties to the American people for drilling both on- and off-shore. And Congress should now turn its attention to ending our addiction to oil."