Issues Surrounding Offshore Oil Drilling

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8 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 10 μήνες)

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Issues Surrounding Offshore Oil Drilling

Background: The debate over offshore oil drilling heated up in 2008 when then
President George W. Bush lifted a 1990 executive order banning offshore drilling.
The ban was ordered by his father, George H.W. Bush. Lifting the ban was
mostly symbolic, as there was previous 1981 ban that was still in place, which
Congress allowed to expire in September 2008, but left the 1990 executive order
in place.

In 2010 a deadly explosion at an oil rig has caused the Obama administration to
put the recently announced expansion into offshore drilling for oil and gas on
hold. Some politicians and environmental advocates are calling on the president
to halt any planned expansions until more safeguards are put into place against
future disasters.

The Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution gives the federal government
authority over most offshore exploration for industrial as well as scientific
purposes. A 1960 Supreme Court decision in United States v. Louisiana (et.al.)
divided ownership of the tidelands of the United States between the state and
federal governments. The states have authority over the sea and seabed out to
3.5 nautical miles (except Texas and Florida which control the seabed out to 10.5
nautical miles). The federal government controls the rest out to 200 nautical
miles.

The Energy Independence Argument
The United States needs to be less dependent on imported oil from foreign
countries. The country is vulnerable to sanctions imposed by unfriendly nations
as was exemplified during the 1973 oil embargo by OPEC nations (Organization
of Petroleum Exporting Countries). Many of these countries also have unstable
governments or are prone to invasion, civil war, or acts of terrorism.
Economically, it would be better for the United States produce its own energy
resources to bolster its economy and create jobs.

High Fuel Prices Argument
Opening up our offshore oil fields would reduce the price of gasoline at the pump.
Gas prices are continuing to climb and with countries like China and India
becoming more industrialized, world demand for oil will increase as will gas
prices. Though extracting our oil offshore will not greatly reduce energy prices or
cut our dependency on foreign oil, it will smooth out the spikes in future energy
prices.

The renewable energy is “Not-Ready-for-Primetime” Argument
The renewable energy industry is not ready to meet the needs of the U.S.
economy right now and won’t be for some time to come. The transition to full use
of renewable resources will take time and billions, if not trillions, of dollars. The
America economy just can’t sustain itself and make this transition at the same
time. So, to protect our economic standing in the world, we need to tap into
offshore oil and gas resources until other sources of energy are fully developed.

Oil Companies already have oil leases argument
The world’s oil companies hold as many as 5,500 oil leases that are not being
used. The Department of the Interior estimates that 68 billion barrels of oil are
accessible in areas already open to offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and
Alaska.

Oil Spills Argument
Drilling off the U.S. coast is dangerous due to unstable weather conditions and
other natural disasters. Offshore facilities and the transport of crude oil from them
pose an environmental risk during normal operations. More than 7 million gallons
of oil spilled during Hurricane Katrina. Seven of the 13 most recent oil spills were
hurricane related.

In2010 a deadly explosion on a oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico spilled thousands of
barrels of oil into the water, threatening wildlife and the local economy.

In 1969, a blowout from an oil rig off the coast of Santa Barbara, California spilled
3 million gallons of petroleum on to the beaches. Though oil extraction
technology has improved, small oil spills are routine. The U.S. Minerals
Management Service reports that there have been 40 spills greater than 1,000
barrels since 1964, including 13 in the last 10 years.

Investing in Alternative Energy Sources Argument
Opening up offshore areas for oil and gas exploration diverts the United States
from aggressively developing alternative energy sources that would improve the
economy, create jobs, and the protect environment. Developing alternative
energy sources is critical for the U.S. economy. Some say that offshore oil
production will help keep the economy afloat until it can transition away from
fossil fuels and toward renewable resources. But others argue that keeping the
emphasis on traditional fuel sources and opening up new offshore oil reserves
pulls the focus away from developing renewable energy.