This afternoon, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) took to the Senate floor and basically made a pitch for the oil and gas industry. He said that to ensure “energy security,” the United States should increasingly “extract our own resources.” According to Inhofe, this solution would not only achieve energy independence, but it would also be pollution-free:
People complain that we are buying — importing from the Middle East — oil and gas. And then they find out that we have it all right here. We don’t have to do that. If their argument there is “Well, we don’t want to use oil and gas because we think it pollutes” — which it doesn’t — but if that’s their argument, then why are we willing to import it from Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East?
Inhofe is an anti-science senator who thinks that global warming is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” Not only does oil and gas drilling release greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, but they also release other dangerous pollutants that endanger American health. As the Natural Resources Defense Council wrote in a 2008 report:
Oil and gas drilling operations can release a number of hazardous pollutants, including hydrogen sulfide, benzene, toluene, formaldehyde, and diesel exhaust. Exposure is known to lead to short-term illnesses, cancer, or even death. For example, benzene and formaldehyde are both known to cause cancer, and diesel exhaust contains a number of compounds known to cause cancer. Emissions can come from oil and gas itself, chemical additives used in drilling, or fuel combustion.
Additionally, a 2003 University of California at Irvine study found that “oil and natural gas wells and refineries create regional air pollution levels in excess of some of the nation’s smoggiest urban areas.” In states like Wyoming and New Mexico, “oil and gas drilling operations are the second largest source of statewide carbon dioxide and methane emissions,” two key greenhouse gases.
Of course there are also oil spills; big oil spills put approximately 37 million gallons of oil into the world’s oceans each year. Several hundred million more gallons wind up in the waterways through other means, such as air pollution.
More drilling is Inhofe’s solution to all the nation’s economic problems. He even thought it would help low-income families pay their heating bills. Of course, actual solutions to achieving energy independence and creating jobs are ones that Inhofe is unwilling to even consider because they won’t benefit his friends in the gas and oil industry.