Surfrider chapter joins offshore oil drilling debate

In his Saturday radio address, President Bush urged Congress to lift its ban on offshore oil and gas drilling to increase U.S. energy production.

“This is a difficult time for many American families,” Bush said. “Rising gasoline prices and economic uncertainty can affect everything from what food parents put on the table to where they can go on vacation.”

The Surfrider Foundation, which opposes the attempt to lift the moratorium on offshore drilling in U.S. waters, has initiated a letter campaign so members can let Bush and other government officials know that drilling is not the answer.

“Surfrider Foundation has always been opposed to the industrialization of our coastline, be it oil drilling, sewage dumping, desalination plants, nuclear and other power plants, breakwaters, you name it,” said Gordon LaBedz, a Kaua‘i Chapter representative. “The coast is the interface between human civilization and wild nature. Our organization exists to defend the natural beaches.”

Bush said offshore drilling could yield up to 18 billion barrels of oil over time, although it would take years before production could start.

Democrats have rejected the idea to lift the drilling moratorium, saying oil companies already have 68 million acres of federal lands and waters under lease — outside the ban area — that are not being developed.

Offshore drilling threatens the coastal and marine environment because increased spills associated with drilling will result in damages for coastal and marine environments for decades, according to the Surfrider Web site.

“Perhaps one day people will respect Mother Ocean and feel gratitude for all that she provides and end the mammoth taking with little regard to the harm we are doing,” said Diana LaBedz, a Kaua‘i Chapter member. “My concern is the tremendous sound that drilling has on the wild ocean, fish, birds and sea mammals. Military sonar and sound blasting used for the search for oil is the most monumental threat to our ocean today.”

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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