An oil platform in the Santa Barbara Channel. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

On Wednesday, with no thanks to Congressman Duncan Hunter, two bills passed the House of Representatives that would permanently ban new offshore drilling on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico. The other four San Diego members of Congress did their jobs and represented us well in voting for this common- sense and bipartisan legislation: HR 205 and HR 1941.

It surprises me to think a former Marine believes that continuing to depend on a finite source of energy like oil is not a recipe for disaster and clearly a fight we can’t possibly win. The right strategy for our future is to invest in renewable energies and technologies that preserve and protect the vital reserves we currently possess not exploit them. When we reduce our need to ever import oil, our strategic needs are not only meet, they are forever secure.

Opening up new areas that are currently closed to drilling would in fact be a direct threat to national security. Department of Defense reports classify significant portions of these federal waters as having conflicts with ongoing military training and testing activities. Developing any oil infrastructure in some of these waters would severely jeopardize defense operations altogether and make them highly vulnerable to attack.

Of greatest importance is that the technology used for offshore drilling exploration remains largely unchanged since it was invented in the 1950s. Any notion that the technology is safe is completely false. The effect of explosive sound being introduced in the water is no different today than it was back then. Offshore oil exploration and drilling was unsafe back then and still is today.

Being a real conservative means more than voting party line. What we needed was a fiscal conservative who understands that any expansion in offshore drilling continues to put at risk a crucial part of the equation for America’s wealth: healthy oceans and clean coasts. Tourism, fishing and recreation industries along the Atlantic, Pacific and eastern Gulf of Mexico support over 2.6 million jobs and generate roughly $180 billion in GDP.

Truth is; if we drilled in America’s Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and eastern Gulf of Mexico, the economically recoverable resources would only meet domestic demand for merely two years and one year respectively. This is pure greed and not strategic security.

We need to focus on what’s working along the coast and pursue a renewable energy strategy to meet our national security needs. We need representation that protects and votes to preserve our resources and insure the economic and national security needs of our coast and our nation are considered one in the same.

Retired Rear Adm. Len R. Hering was commander of Navy Region Southwest and later served as president and executive director of the Center for Sustainable Energy in San Diego.

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