There’s Nothing Radical About Safety

With the 1-year memorial of the Deepwater Horizon disaster almost here, NWF and other environmental groups sent a letter to President Obama, asking him to fully implement the drilling safety measures recommended by a bipartisan panel.  We repeated our call for a common sense response to the tragedy, because when something goes wrong you fix the problem before moving on—but our government and the oil industry have only gone halfway.

Satellite image of the Gulf oil spill, June 26, 2010 (photo: NASA)

While we understand that some politicians in the Gulf have a different opinion on this issue, we would like to see a respectful national dialogue.  Unfortunately, Louisiana Sen. David Vitter and Rep. Steve Scalise reacted to our letter by calling us “radical” and sidestepping the main issues we raised.

According to a report in the New Orleans Times-Picayune :

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., denounced the environmental groups’ letter.

“As we near the Deepwater Horizon explosion anniversary, Wendy and I will continue praying for the victims and their families,” Vitter said. “Meanwhile, I think it’s callous and hollow to use the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico to push a radical environmentalist anti-drilling agenda.”

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, offered similar sentiments.

“While we need to make sure that drilling is done safely, this disaster should not be politicized to achieve a long sought-after radical agenda which shuts down American energy exploration and leaves our country more dependent on Middle Eastern oil,” Scalise said.

National Wildlife Federation’s position isn’t callous or hollow: we need to keep oil rig workers safe, and companies must be able to stop a spill before millions of barrels of crude oil flow into the ocean.  And if this country is really serious about getting off foreign oil, we need to commit to clean, domestic energy like wind and solar, which OPEC can’t control.

Brown pelicans being washed at Fort Jackson Wildlife Rehabilitation Center near Venice, La. (photo: NWF)

Scalise and Vitter are right to care about their constituents’ livelihoods, but it wasn’t “radical environmentalists” who caused the biggest disaster in Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina.  It was BP and Transocean and Halliburton, with a lot of help from Cameron International – the company that manufactured the rig’s faulty blowout preventer.  The President’s Oil Spill Commission concluded that are “systemic” problems in the drilling industry that led to the Deepwater Horizon spill, and we don’t have any proof that these problems have been fixed.  We call on Representative Scalise and Senator Vitter to give the nation what it needs on this issue—a conversation that rises above attacks and focuses on the real issues.


You can read NWF’s letter here.

Find out more about NWF’s efforts to restore the Gulf at