The failure of Senator McConnell's Offshore Production and Safety Act on Wednesday is encouraging, demonstrating that memory loss may not be a problem for all members of Congress. The reckless bill was opposed by the Obama Administration, which felt the bill would undermine its positive efforts for tighter regulation of the offshore oil industry after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that decimated the Gulf Coast's environment, fishing, and tourist industries.
Rather than a leasing process that errs on the side of caution, McConnell's bill would have forced quick decisions on permit applications, jeopardizing the government's ability to ensure protection not only of our environment but also the safety of oil industry workers. The bill also would have expanded drilling in the Gulf and along the Atlantic seaboard as well as forced the sale of leases in the Arctic, a fragile environment that does not need the added threat of a catastrophic oil spill on top of the problems it faces with the accelerating effects of climate change.
Some in Congress equate high gasoline prices with the need to expand domestic oil production, but really this should signal the need to move away from fossil fuels and toward clean renewable sources of energy like solar and wind. The Senate made the right choice this time, but the fight to put "oil above all" is far from over. Here's hoping that those Senators who voted against this irresponsible drilling expansion continue to take their gingko biloba and never forget the lessons learned from last year's disaster.