WASHINGTON - June 30 -The following is a statement by Mike Daulton, Director of Conservation Policy, National Audubon Society:
"In a Congress that has produced no productive solutions to the biggest energy and environmental challenge of recent times, this offshore drilling proposal sets a new low.
"Removing a quarter-century old ban on dangerous drilling off of our irreplaceable coastlines is reckless and irresponsible.
"What Congressman Pombo's bill does is put one of America's greatest natural resources, our pristine beaches, at risk of ruin. The bill threatens to cripple America's vibrant coastal tourism economy, which in Florida alone produces $57 billion in revenue.
"The oil and gas industry already has access to over 80 percent of the known reserves of oil and natural gas in our offshore areas. They have rights to more than 4,000 untapped leases in the Gulf of Mexico alone. It makes no sense to put our coasts at risk when the industry has not even tapped into the leases they already have.
"In the face of runaway energy prices, it is discouraging to see the House focus on a giveaway of America's resources that serves narrow special interests. Recent polls bear this out; showing the leadership of the House is sadly out of touch.
"We are fortunate this bill faces much darker prospects in the Senate, and faces the very serious budget concerns raised by the Bush Administration."