“The issues we will discuss today are vitally important both to the long term sustainability of our ocean resources and to our national energy policy.
“It is our hope in this hearing to move away from rhetoric and to focus on the facts surrounding offshore oil and gas production and its impact on the environment. At the end of this hearing I hope that we will have a better understanding of these issues that will help on the debate in the Senate going forward.
“In this hearing we are following up on some issues raised during the markup of our energy bill earlier this year. Policy suggestions were made by Senator Dorgan and others about ways of addressing environmental concerns in this area. These ideas included limitations on structures within the line of sight of the coastline and the creation of no-development ‘buffer zones’ of various sizes between the coast and production activities. I think we all agreed that such a discussion could benefit from a better offshore understanding of the facts involved, and that a hearing focused on the issues would be useful.
“The panel of witnesses here today brings a wide variety of expertise to these issues. We have representatives from the Department of the Interior’s Minerals Management Service; the oil and gas industry; and experts on ocean resources conservation. Each of these witnesses has scientific experience with oceans and energy development, and we look forward to a productive discussion.”
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