For Immediate Release:
Contact: David Willett, 202-675-6698
Response to President Obama's Oval Office Address
Washington, DC: Statement of Michael Brune, Executive Director of Sierra Club:
We share the President's grief over the human cost of this tragedy and we agree with the President when he said, "The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic."
We must make sure we don't just treat the symptoms, but that we also find a cure--and that means ending our dependence on oil.
We have been asking the President to stop the gusher, make sure BP is held fully accountable for this disaster and its aftermath, provide justice for the people of Gulf and ultimately provide a plan for an oil-free economy for America. This evening the President touched on all these issues--now we need to see the details of exactly what government, business and individuals can and must do to be part of the solution.
BP has failed miserably at stopping the flow of oil and the government has, to this point, not done enough to force them to prepare for or respond to this disaster. We are pleased to see the President finally exerting the appropriate amount of authority over those responsible for this tragedy.
It was crucial for President Obama to address the desperate need of people and business impacted in the region for relief. BP must compensate all of those affected and the government has every right to force BP to do so. We look forward to hearing more about the detailed demands Obama makes of BP tomorrow.
It's encouraging to see the Obama administration taking steps to improve safety regulations for offshore drilling. Federal oversight of the oil industry has been far from adequate. Lax regulations have contributed to accidents and spills we see regularly wherever there is offshore drilling. However, improving safety regulations simply puts a band aid on the wound. As long as there is offshore drilling, there will be oil spills. We need to address the root cause of the problem. A safer solution would be a permanent moratorium and an ambitious and achievable plan to get America off oil.
Consequently, we are very pleased to hear President Obama reiterate his call for a fundamental change in the nation's energy policy. The President now needs to lay out the specifics. What exactly are the steps we know we can take now? What kind of sacrifices can be made? How can every American help?
The Senate must take up this challenge. Bills like Kerry-Lieberman, and Senator Merkley's plan to reduce oil consumption are already being discussed. Taking these early steps is vital to the success of our ultimate goal--an clean energy economy that works for America's middle class. The BP oil disaster in the gulf is a wake-up call. Creating a clean energy economy won't be easy, but with the right leadership, it can be done.