Spill no reason to stop offshore drilling

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8 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 9 μήνες)

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Article Link:
http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/93156314.html

Spill no reason to stop offshore drilling


Associated Press

By J. Allen Wampler

May 8, 2010

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In the aftermath of the oil drilling blowout and ensuing spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the United
States can follow two possible energy strategies.

One is to re
trench and import considerably more oil. But our level of oil dependence has reached
the 65% mark. Over
-
reliance on imported oil from OPEC will lead our country into a future
laden with uncertainty and danger. The United States sent $440 billion overseas t
o pay for
imported oil in 2008
-

and that didn't include the money spent to secure shipping routes from the
Persian Gulf and other unstable regions.

The second road is to slow or reverse our dependence on oil imports. This can be achieved by
encouraging th
e exploration and production of new oil and natural gas resources, most
importantly those in deepwater areas of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico and off Alaska that have
been closed to drilling. President Barack Obama has said those deepwater resources are
needed
to compensate for the decline in production from older, mature wells in shallow water and on
-
land.

Equally important, we need to make greater use of energy
-
efficient technologies and bring
alternative energy sources more swiftly into play.

Such a st
rategy does not require big leaps in know
-
how
-

only commitment by government and
individuals. It will require eliminating unnecessary regulatory roadblocks and burdensome taxes
and fees on energy companies and allowing energy options to stand or fall on t
heir own merit.

With oil use projected to grow in coming decades, America definitely needs access to its
offshore resources on the Outer Continental Shelf. They are crucial to U.S. energy security.

Clearly, the benefits of offshore drilling outweigh the da
ngers of producing oil in turbulent seas.
The risk of catastrophic accidents will always be with us, but negligence is not the reason, nor
does it make sense to deny that companies are taking precautions to produce oil safely.

Large oil spills, whether on
land or offshore, are extremely rare. The inescapable reality is that
we need the oil for transportation and for our industries. A society that wishes to have the
benefits of a technology must responsibly deal with the inevitable problems created by that
t
echnology. The blowout at the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico does not change
that reality.

Deepwater drilling in water depths greater than 1,000 feet supplies approximately 70% of the oil
and 30% of the natural gas produced in the Gulf of Mexi
co, according to the U.S. Minerals
Management Service. The loss of those energy resources would negatively affect our standard of
living.

Those considerations provide plenty of reasons for wasting no time in opening up areas that have
been closed to oil an
d natural gas production.

Diatribes by anti
-
drilling activists to the contrary, we cannot stick our heads in the sand and
pretend that we will not make use of an estimated 17 billion barrels of oil and 76 trillion cubic
feet of natural gas in untapped area
s of the Atlantic, Pacific and eastern Gulf of Mexico. Our
economy depends on oil and gas.

It is regrettable that the people trying to end the use of fossil fuels in this country are spending so
much effort scaring us into banning offshore drilling.

If
they truly cared about safety, they would focus their energy on the real hazards
-

oil and
natural gas shortages leading to higher energy costs that have hurt consumers and forced
manufacturing companies to close their plants and move abroad, with the loss

of tens of
thousands of jobs.

Yet some politicians and pundits prefer to throw in the towel. They want the administration to
drop its plan to increase offshore oil and gas production and are urging Congress to scale back
government funding for a wide spec
trum of energy technologies.

To do that would be folly. The government needs to redouble its efforts to expand oil and gas
development as well as alternative energy sources if this country is to ensure that it has adequate
energy supplies. This would stimu
late the economy, provide well
-
paying jobs and reduce
dependence on imported fuel.

Looking to the future, it is sobering to consider the substantial growth in demand for gasoline,
diesel and natural gas that will occur in the U.S. in spite of serious effor
ts to conserve energy. A
survey by the Energy Information Administration shows that even with continuing gains in
energy efficiency, the demand for oil will rise through 2030.

This is a time for a new realism
-

a new willingness to come to grips with the r
emaining
technical hurdles facing deepwater drilling, which is a necessary energy option that has
demonstrated its practicality and economic viability in the U.S. over the past 40 years. The safety
problems are tractable if there is the political will to m
ove forward.

J. Allen Wampler is a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy for fossil fuels
and is now a strategic energy consultant to industry and government.