The fact that more than four million gallons of oil have now spilled into the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of the Deep Horizons Rig explosion begs these questions: Is offshore oil drilling a reasonable safety risk? Is it an absolutely essential element in America’s effort to become independent of Mideast Oil? And are offshore oil rigs enticing targets for terrorists, given the fact that simply lighting one of them on fire can have such drastic consequences?
A few months ago there seemed to be a broad consensus among political leaders that, like it or not, we simply must tap into offshore oil reserves in order to secure our energy future. Just this year, thousands of miles of U.S. coastline were opened to gas and oil exploration. Now, however, some polititicians are rethinking their postion on offshore drilling, including the Governator, who reversed his position yesterday, saying he now feels offshore drilling is just too risky.
"It has never been more clear that offshore oil and gas production is a dirty and dangerous business," says Jackie Savitz, of the nonprofit ocean conservation organization Oceana, "and that our ability to prevent and contain spills has not kept pace with our ability to access oil below ocean waters." Whether or not you believe, as Savitz does, that "alternatives such as offshore wind power can provide more jobs and help solve climate change while never spilling," the fact remains that hundreds of species of marine life — including whales, dolphins and sea turtles — are threatened by the "ever-growing plume of toxic sludge," which is currently on pace to exceed the Exxon Valdez disaster. Threats to the boating industry, of course, are obvious also.
If you have a well-reasoned opinion on the subject of offshore drilling along the California coast and elsewhere, feel free to chime in.