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Increased Oil Drilling Not the Solution to High Energy Prices

Rabbi Saperstein: "While we recognize the great difficulties faced by working families struggling with high gas prices, the solution will not solely be found in expanding our domestic offshore oil production."

Contact: Eric Harris or Marc Friend
202.387.2800 |

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 18th, 2011 -- In response to Congressional action and President Obama's statements this weekend supportive of greater domestic oil drilling. Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

In his weekly Saturday address, President Obama called for several measures to rein in energy prices, including expanded domestic oil drilling off the coast of Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic. While we recognize the essential role that oil plays in our current energy strategy, our policy positions have long held that the answer to our energy needs is not in increased domestic oil production and dependence until the environmental and safety issues are addressed.

While we recognize the great difficulties faced by working families struggling with high gas prices, the solution will not solely be found in expanding our domestic offshore oil production. According to the congressionally appropriated Energy Information Administration, the expansion of offshore oil drilling would only drive down the prices of gas by, at most, a few cents, and it would take until 2030 for this impact to be felt.

The United States has a small percentage of the world's oil supply and thus our impact on the global price of oil is minimal. Yet, the negative environmental impact of drilling is significant and put many of our most fragile ecosystems in danger. These facts make last week's House votes on H.R. 1229, H.R. 1230, and H.R. 1231 all the more disappointing. Together, these bills will expedite the process for oil leases, open up sensitive areas, and ignore key safety reforms.

We therefore urge the Senate to vote against S. 953, the Offshore Production and Safety Act of 2011, and urge the President to refrain from actions which, though appealing in the short term, pose long term threats to our environment and health. Rather than expanding offshore oil drilling, we should level the playing field for clean energy sources, cutting unnecessary oil subsidies and blocking efforts in Congress to increase drilling. By investing in fuel efficiency and alternative fuels, we can build a clean energy future that relieves the pressure on American families for generations to come. Moreover, we should focus instead on much-needed support for Gulf Coast communities still overcoming the environmental, economical, and mental health impacts of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, just one year ago.


The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis. Visit for more.

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