The House Natural Resources Committee has been holding a hearing today, the first of three on the topic, “Offshore Drilling: Environmental And Commercial Perspectives“‘
Chairman Nick Rahall (D-WV) opposes offshore development of oil and natural gas resources, so he’s led off with the OCS critics, including former TV star Ted Danson. Ted Danson!
“He has devoted his life to protecting our oceans,” Rep. Rahall said on public radio’s Power Breakfast. “We need somebody of his expertise to tell us just what are the implications of drilling in our oceans.”
The reporter appears to suggest that the economy has overwhelmed the OCS energy issue in the news, to which Chairman Rahall responds, “We need that type of star power.”
The temptation is to mock Danson as just another vapid actor, claiming to have special knowledge of an issue because his surly Becker was an inspiration for House.
But … just because you’re rich and married to Mary Steenburgen doesn’t disqualify you from having an opinion. Public engagement is to be welcomed from all walks of life, and TV stars have the First Amendment right to petition their government for redress of grievances just as John and Jane Q. Public do.
Danson always seemed like a smart fellow, too. It’s just in this case that he’s very, very wrong on the environmental case — OCS drilling can be conducted in an environmentally sensitive manner — and his policy antagonism to fossil fuels and energy production will make America poorer and more dependent on foreign energy.
We look forward to more balanced, pro-jobs testimony in the upcoming hearings in Chairman Rahall’s series, no matter who it comes from — a wealthy entertainment figure or average Joe who drives a car, heats his home, and has a job thanks to America’s energy sector.
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