You might have seen some news coverage lately about protesters dressed in cute salmon costumes and even cuter polar bear costumes, who delivered with much ceremony, bags of letters to the Interior Department in Washington D.C. that argued against new offshore drilling in the U.S. By the protesters’ own count, 250,000 letters, postcards, and whatnot were delivered.
There was another story that went largely unreported: The Interior Department received an even larger number of letters supporting responsible exploration and production. For the record, more than 360,000 Americans have sent letters of the pro-responsible drilling variety to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar over the past six months. To date, these letters account for more than 60 percent of the comments received by Interior.
That’s a significant margin, and all the more so when you consider the nature of the debate. Let’s face it: In the court of public opinion, oil often faces an uphill battle. It’s easy to call yourself an environmentalist and jump on an anti-oil bandwagon without really knowing all the facts. It can take more time and work to consider the country’s significant energy needs and develop an informed stance on how we meet them.
So first of all, Thank You! For months, CEA has been working on this blog and elsewhere to organize support for responsible offshore drilling. The matter has been in legal limbo since earlier this year, when lawmakers enacted a series of barriers that effectively reversed President Bush’s move to lift an 18-year ban on offshore drilling on most of the country’s outer continental shelf.
In recent months, supporters of producing oil domestically and reducing the country’s dependence on foreign oil have won a few battles, but a larger war on this matter wages. CEA is heartened by the volume of letters sent in support of our position. It underscores not just that there is a silent majority out there, but that a lot of people care deeply about energy independence.
So then, why is it that majority is so often a silent one to the media? Because polar bears do have a lot of appeal. No matter if polar bears are not really at the core of this debate. No matter if they were just polar bear costumes. No matter if those protesters enjoying an early Halloween drove all the way to Washington in cars that run on oil. They play well on TV.
You can entertain ways that our side might dress for comparable success, or comparable media attention, but we haven’t come up with anything really catchy yet. Perhaps this is because the image of responsible oil production and energy independence is really just the image of everyday people going about their business with a little more ease and a little less strain. It’s the image of the family that is not forced to cut back on food to pay for heating oil, of the worker who doesn’t pay excessive amounts of his paycheck on his commute, of the trucker who isn’t taken into the red by filling up at the pump.
If any readers out there can think of an image that might overshadow the salmon costume in Washington, please let us know. Until then, we hope you’ll continue the quiet battle for the attention of our lawmakers. Know that your voices are being heard, even if your attire goes unnoticed.