Ted Danson, film and television star turned ocean conservationist, Wednesday called on Congress and President Obama to reinstate the bans on drilling off the East and West coasts, as well as to block drilling in Alaska’s Bristol Bay.

“The harm posed by oil and gas activities in the Outer Continental Shelf [OCS] is too large to ignore. As a result, it is incumbent upon the Congress to reinstate the OCS moratoriums as soon as possible,” Danson told the House Natural Resources Committee during the first of a series of oversight hearings on offshore exploration and development.

The president also should reinstate the executive moratorium to provide an “added layer of protection for our marine life and coasts,” said Danson, a member of the board of directors of Oceana, a global ocean conservation group based in Washington, DC. “The worsening threat of climate change imposes a new urgency” for reinstating the OCS ban, he noted.

Danson called for a shift toward an “affordable, carbon-free renewable energy and end [to] our dependence on oil” and other fossil fuels.

The American Petroleum Institute (API), which represents oil and gas producers, responded quickly to Danson’s testimony. “Renewable energy sources will be a growing part of America’s energy future. But it is wrong to suggest that reimposing the federal moratoria on offshore exploration and development is a step torward that goal,” said the producer group.

“In fact, oil and natural gas stand as the logical bridge to that future, and even with a significant increase in the use of alternatives, are expected to be dominant fuel sources in 2030 and beyond,” the API said.

“The oil and natural gas industry has established itself as a good steward of the oceans and is now sharing its best practices with other sectors of the marine transportation industry. Through improved technology and training, the industry has operated in the Gulf of Mexico without a significant oil spill, even in the face of powerful hurricanes.”

©Copyright 2009Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news reportmay not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in anyform, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.