The United States military action against Libya is motivated by a desire for affordable and accessible oil, a top Democrat on environmental issues said Monday.
Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, said that he agreed with President Obama's decision to launch, along with allies, attacks against Libya and its leader, Moammar Gadhafi. But Markey said the attacks were primarily motivated by oil.
"I think all Americans know why the president made this strike," he said. "As long as no American soldiers are on the ground ... then I think it's a good decision for the president."
Political unrest in Libya and other Middle Eastern nations with high oil production contributed to higher prices per barrel of crude oil, which translates to higher energy costs — particularly in gasoline. (Oil was up to above $102/barrel as of midday trading on Monday.)
The increased energy prices led Obama to hold a press conference earlier this month in which he renewed calls for more production of renewable energy, and said he would consider opening the Strategic Petroleum Reserves if oil prices continued to rise.
Markey said the U.S. involvement in Libya "highlighted the need for the United States to have a renewable energy strategy going forward."
The Massachusetts Democrat also pointed to the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan as a potential turning point in the debate over sources of energy. Markey said the U.S. should prohibit future construction of nuclear power plants in areas of high seismic activity, and work to fortify existing plants built on fault lines.