Last week, CEA President David Holt weighed in on an online debate about the way the country and the energy industry should respond to the tragic accident last month in the Gulf of Mexico.

“We can only start this discussion with an honest, realistic approach of our needs as a country,” Holt said, adding that whatever one’s  personal position on this contentions issue, we all need to unite around “a reasonable and realistic starting point from which we can consider all the consequences of all the different options for energy production.”

Holt stressed that it does no good to protest all oil production, at a point in time when so much of our transportation sector and life in general is oil-dependent. And it likewise makes no sense to argue that the cost of domestic drilling is too high, while ignoring the multiple costs – environmental, political and financial — that result from a dependence on foreign oil production.

All energy production comes with costs and to pretend otherwise is dangerous. And while CEA supports a thorough investigation into the accident in the Gulf, and tougher standards to ensure this does not happen again, we are also encouraged to see that reason seems to be prevailing.

This opinion piece in USA Today argues that the U.S. cannot abandon offshore drilling now:

Decades of refusal to expand domestic drilling, or make gasoline more expensive, have left the nation addicted to foreign oil. As pretty much everyone knows by now, this is an invisible, slow motion disaster that transfers tens of billions of dollars a year to unfriendly regimes and leaves the nation vulnerable to wars and oil shocks.

This piece in The Washington Post calls for strict oversight, and responsible drilling, while The New York Times offers some context to the oil spills that have occurred in the U.S. To offer one example, Nigeria, one of the world’s major oil producers, has had a major spill every year since 1969; as of last year it had 2,000 active spills:

All oil comes from someone’s backyard, and when we don’t reduce the amount of oil we consume, and refuse to drill at home, we end up getting people to drill for us in Kazakhstan, Angola and Nigeria — places without America’s strong environmental safeguards or the resources to enforce them.

And finally, this poll shows that while public opinion has shifted in the wake of last month’s tragic accident, a majority of Americans continue to support offshore drilling in the U.S.

Clearly, until we know more about the cause of that accident and the best practices for ensuring it will not happen again, we must proceed with extreme caution. For the time, safety must be the first order of business. But as the country debates the best way to go forward, we are heartened to see such a levelheaded and intelligent debate.