A CLEAR solution to reforming oil & gas drilling

The Catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, along with several other cases of oil and gas drilling gone awry, is causing Congress to take another look at America’s energy sources.

The Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources Act — or CLEAR Act — from the House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (WV) looks to improve the way that oil and gas are taken out of the ground, both on federal on-shore and offshore lands. It also strives to lessen America’s dependence on dirty fossil fuels, so that risky drilling like the kind that led to the Gulf of Mexico disaster can hopefully be a thing of the past.

For years, oil and gas companies have been taking major risks with our public lands and oceans — If the CLEAR Act passes, they will have to be much more careful, and not let American taxpayers foot the bill if/when something goes wrong. The CLEAR Act would require that proper environmental safeguards are put in place before the drilling starts, and that there are plans in place to help lands recover from the drilling — and the roads, storage tanks, and other facilities that come with it.

Another one of the steps to reforming the dirty and dangerous drilling industry is to first reform the government agency that regulates it — in this case, by abolishing the Minerals Management Service and replacing with a regulatory agency with teeth that will oversee the oil and gas industry, not collude with them. Part of this also includes removing the exemptions from environmental reviews for off-shore drilling — and increasing scrutiny on spill response plans that include wildlife that don’t live in the area of the drilling (such as the walruses that BP included in their Gulf of Mexico response plan).

Another benefit of the CLEAR Act is the full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund — a vital tool for protecting our wild places. Millions of people have benefited from the outdoor recreation and ecosystem services from lands purchased through the fund, and guaranteeing full funding would increase these benefits for people across the country.

The Wilderness Society supports this proposal from Chairman Rahall to both reform a broken oil and gas drilling system and benefit public lands at the same time.

Read The Wilderness Society President Bill Meadows’ letter to Chairman Rahall.