Environmentalist Call For End to Offshore Drilling

In the wake of the Gulf Coast oil spill, many are calling for a moratorium on off shore drilling. You can add the Sierra Club to that list. Today, the Houston chapter held a protest outside the Offshore Technology Conference at Reliant Center. Bill Stamps has more.

In politics, they say votes and elections aren’t won by people on opposing sides, it’s the independents who make the difference — the people in the middle. When it comes to offshore drilling, Dewayne Tanks and Muriel Tipps fall in that category. Dewayne is from Louisiana and Muriel is a shrimper here in Texas. Neither is happy about the spill, but neither says drilling should be completely done away with.

“I can understand that, don’t get me wrong. I understand we need it to supply our needs here. But we’re already drilling in Alaska, already.”

“They need to take a check on their safety. They really do. If equipment is faulty or old, it needs to be replaced.”

Donna Hoffman The Sierra Club and a few other environmental activists protested outside the gates of reliant center where the large offshore technology conference is going on. The Sierra Club’s Donna Hoffman says they’d like to see an end to offshore drilling period.

“It’s risky; it’s dangerous; it’s extremely harmful to the entire Gulf Coast and all the communities that live and make their livings on the Gulf of Mexico.”

Hoffman says the U.S. should be focusing on alternative fuel sources that don’t pose a threat to the environment.

“Eventually, we want to transition off of fossil fuels altogether, so that would eventually include stopping all offshore drilling. It’s too risky and just too dangerous.”

Houston businessman Don Clover says that sounds good, but says it’s just not that simple.

“My question to them is what they are suggesting as an alternative that’s not going to take eight to ten years to develop? We can’t just all the sudden quit. That’s like saying I’m going to go on a diet I’m just going to quiet eating. You can’t do that you have to have a professional approach.”

Don Clover

Clover’s company sells the machine that’s used to test the type of equipment that failed in the BP case. He says there’s never a guarantee equipment won’t fail but says one or two cases shouldn’t bring the whole industry down.

“That’s like saying ‘OK because we kill 40 or 50 thousand people a year in automobile accidents, quit selling automobiles’. It can’t happen. You have to have this. Sure, there are probably safer things being developed, but this is one of the safest industries in the world doing the hazardous jobs that are done in this industry.”

The Sierra Club says the BP case is a national emergency and they’re planning to hold 50 more protests across the country in the next two days. The biggest will be Saturday in New Orleans…a city that knows all about disasters.