The debate on whether the US should expand its offshore oil drilling has been raging on in the previous successive governments, but without any conclusive resolve as to what should be done exactly. While the debate is fumbled upon by various quotas, the fundamental aspects of the debate have, in the process, been jeopardized either for political or civil reasons. As an environmentalist however, my viewership angle is a little aligned to the triple bottom line benefits or demerits that expanding offshore oil drilling will have on the economy, society and the natural environment. My viewership thus culminates into an overriding support for the opponents of expansion of offshore oil drilling.
The energy crisis in the world continues to prove that the world cannot and can never drill itself out of the crisis. The reasons why more expensive alternative energy solutions are explored is solely due to a future infeasibility in oil dependence. Between 1999 and 2007 alone in the US, the House Committee on Natural Resources indicated that the number of drilling permits increased by over 300%. It’s true that such an increase would be expected to drastically reduce gas prices but the trend has persistently been the opposite. Therefore, simply drilling up more wells in the waters cannot reduce the prices of gas.
The main reason the proponents of offshore drilling are tabling is to make the US oil independent. Well, this is a viable and an admirable stance right? Let me break it down. The U.S oil supply-demand deficit is ridiculous. While we only have nearly 2% of the world’s known oil reserves, we use a whole 25% of its oil; i.e. approximately 20 billion barrels per day. This means that even if we dug all the potential wells in the US, we can never be self-reliant in oil and we shall need to import more oil for that reason. Remember the demands are growing but supplies are never keeping up.
Offshore drilling has its own share of impacts on the communities and the environment in general. To put this into a clear perspective, let me mini-analyze the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (BP Oil Spill). The spill area hosted 8,332 known species and among them are 1,270 fish species. All of the important animal and plant fish species are known to be native to the perished area. A report that was later tabled in 2014 by NOAA indicated that toxins from the oil spills cause irregular heartbeats and thus cardiac arrest. Almost every life was wiped away completely at the spill area. Assuming that we had oil rigs lined up in our offshore coastal waters and we estimate that we can be having spills every once a year, would we really ever remember having any of the known ocean species?
The health consequences from spills to both the environment and humans are unthinkable. By June 2010, around 143 spill-exposure cases had been reported to Louisiana Department of Health. The most affected were the workers that were involved in the cleanup exercise. Therefore, offshore drilling simply means that we should start investing in extra research in health as well as be ready to absorb the unquantifiable environmental destructions. This is simply unacceptable.
Davenport, C. (2016). Issues New Rules on Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/15/us/politics/us-issuesnew-rules-on-offshore-oil-and-gas-drilling.html?_r=0.
Energy Information Administration (2005). Overview of U.S. Legislation and Regulations Affecting Offshore Natural Gas and Oil Activity. Office of Oil and Gas.
Google Image. BP Oil Spill [Image]. Retrieved from http://www.energydigital.com/public/uploads/large/large_article_im2507_BP_oil_spill_court_2013.jpg.
Google Image. Kill the Drill [Image]. Retrieved from http://www.truthrevolt.org/sites/default/files/styles/content_full_width/public/field/image/articles/killthedrill_2.jpg?itok=mqoQjtn8.
Google Image. Offshore Drilling [Image]. Retrieved from http://tridaya.net/wp-content/uploads//2011/12/offshore-bg1.jpg.