With all the work that Congress needs to do this year, it is a shame that we are wasting time today considering Rep. Peterson's proposal to allow new drilling in our sensitive coastal and marine areas.

Last year I led the bipartisan opposition to a similar proposal from Rep. Peterson that was soundly defeated.Here we are again, considering a flawed proposal that fails to responsibly address our country's energy needs and at the same time jeopardizes our economically and environmentally valuable coastal areas.

Even energy industry officials acknowledge that Rep. Peterson's amendment is just a ploy focused on "messaging" that lacks any substantive solution for our energy demands. For 25 years the bipartisan Congressional moratorium has served our country well, protecting us from greedy oil and gas companies with an insatiable drive to drill.

While the oil and gas industry and their supporters in Congress claim that they need more places to drill, the truth is that they already has access to the vast majority of natural gas. Indeed, according to the Bush Administration, about 80 percent of the known reserves are located in areas where drilling is already allowed. Furthermore, the oil and gas industry already owns drilling rights to more than 4,000 untapped leases in the Gulf of Mexico alone.

Our country should not continue to pursue a flawed policy that relies solely on obtaining energy in the most expensive, time consuming, and dirtiest way. Americans need relief from high energy prices and clearly the Bush Administration strategies of drilling everywhere have failed. We must accept that we can't drill our way to energy independence and we should refocus our efforts on reducing consumption and pursuing alternative energy sources as a means of achieving true energy independence.