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Oil Rigs and Fish Farms = An Unappetizing Idea

WASHINGTON - June 21 - Hurricane season has only been underway for three weeks, but our lawmakers in Washington are already unleashing their own form of damage to our nation's coasts. The House Committee on Resources is today marking up a domestic energy production bill (H.R. 4761), which includes a pollution-promoting provision that would permit oil and gas platforms to be converted to offshore fish farms.

Known as "Rigs to Reef," this section would allow energy companies to avoid paying the costs of removing their rigs if the Secretary of Interior allows the rigs to be abandoned or transferred. But consumers don't want to eat fish that was raised in fish farms on former oil and gas rigs. Waste and chemicals from fish farms harm surrounding habitats, poison ocean wildlife and threaten public health. To top it off, recent reports have highlighted a connection between oil and gas rigs and elevated mercury levels in the local environment and wild-caught fish.

Moreover, Hurricanes Rita and Katrina destroyed 100 oil platforms last year. Weather experts are already predicting another active hurricane season, but Congress apparently isn't listening. If these offshore fish farms are destroyed, the farmed fish escape and mix with wild fish populations. This spreads disease and disrupts the marine ecosystem.

Why should energy companies get yet another perk when they're already earning record profits from the high gas prices that we as consumers are forced to pay at the pump? These companies should have to pay to decommission their oil and gas rigs properly and consumers should be able to eat fish without worrying about whether it was raised in a fish farm near an oil and gas rig.