Miss. senators happy Obama opening drilling, environmental watchdogs disappointed

Mississippi senators are giving an initial nod to President Obama’s proposal to open more of America’s coastline to oil drilling, but the move is a major disappointment to Gulf environmental watchdogs.
The president’s plan includes opening 24 million acres in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, about 125 miles off Florida’s western coast.
The most discouraging thing about the proposal is that, “from our perspective it does jeopardize more of our coast,” said Aaron Viles with the Gulf Restoration Network. “In Louisiana, we’re losing a football field of wetlands every minute, and 40 to 60 percent of that loss is due to oil and gas exploration in the Gulf.
“Moving forward with oil and gas development off our coasts extracts a serious environmental toll,” he said.
“We’re disappointed to see this expansion, certainly under this president who otherwise understands the urgency of addressing global warming,” Viles said. “How does providing oil for 10 or 12 years down the line help us in committing to a non-carbon energy economy?”
But both of Mississippi’s Republican senators said they think the president is moving in the right direction and look forward to more details of the plan.
Sen. Thad Cochran said, “Greater offshore energy exploration is necessary for a balanced U.S. energy policy that also includes nuclear power, renewable energy, conservation and broader energy research and development.”

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