The following op-ed from David Holt, President of Consumer Energy Alliance, appeared on the National Journal website here, in response to the discussion question “Should Congress Expand Offshore Drilling?” on July 12, 2010.

As we search for solutions to the tragedy in the Gulf, our country cannot and should not turn a blind eye to the energy needs of our country. To protest offshore oil production is to ignore the fact that much of our economy is oil-dependent – from the jobs dependent on the oil industry to the transportation of goods and the consumer economy. Halting offshore oil production will absolutely increase our dependence on foreign oil, while not necessarily improving the environmental impact of oil production at all.

In the wake of April’s tragic accident, we can all agree on the need to improve drilling safety and to take steps to ensure that this never happens again. But we all also need to recognize that our continued reliance on foreign oil have left us held hostage to unstable energy prices, in addition to having a huge political impact on our country. Also, we must not continue to ignore the fact that all oil comes from someone’s backyard and when we refuse to drill at home, we often wind up importing oil from places around the world that do not share our tough environmental standards.

All energy production comes with some costs and pretending that the halting of offshore oil production in the Gulf is the answer to safer drilling, or that it will somehow magically lesson our need for oil is just naïve and could have dangerous consequences.

We should continue to pursue stricter safety standards that ensure that a catastrophe like this never happens again, and we should refuse to make short term, knee jerk reactions that have the potential to harm our economy while having no positive impact on the environment.