President Barack Obama recently reversed a ban on most offshore oil drilling on the U.S. coast, including areas right off our local , Virginia Beach. This move could potentially put Virginia at the forefront of the East Coast’s oil and gas exploration. The idea is that this policy will help decrease U.S. dependency on foreign oil and create jobs for Americans. These are two important issues Obama needs to address, but reversing the ban on offshore drilling is not the right move. The job creation for these oil and gas platforms would only be temporary because as soon as the infrastructure is built, the number of people that these operations employ decreases significantly.
The Minerals Management Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior, estimates that the area to be drilled off the coast of Virginia could produce 130 million barrels of oil, enough to satisfy six and a half days of U.S. demand. This is not much and could not really help reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil. The chances of oil spills in the Chesapeake Bay, which would make the water quality even worse, might not be worth the investment. The amount of oil will not provide the nation much of anything to reduce its dependency on foreign oil.
The creation of offshore drilling could actually interfere with naval and NASA Operations in the area. Joe Bouchard, commanding officer of Norfolk Naval Station from 2000 to 2003, wrote that the economic benefits are “exaggerated” and that the practice would have a “serious negative impact on U.S. national security.” Another problem with the offshore drilling is that the prime drilling area is within NASA’s launch site on the eastern shore. NASA and other drilling firms need to sit down and negotiate the best options for each agency respectively.
Besides the problems this decision seems to pose to naval and NASA operations and the small amount of oil off the coast of Virginia, why was this option chosen? If President Obama truly wanted to create jobs in the long term and reduce the dependency on foreign oil, he would have looked at alternative energy options. The eastern coast is a great place to begin installing windmills to create wind energy to supply the United States.
If the United States continues to try to end its dependence on foreign oil by using its own oil reserves, the energy problem will never be solved. The oil reserves in the United States are not as large as those in the Middle East, and the United States would be forced to be dependent on foreign oil again. Investing in alternative energy sources can solve this problem.
Not only will this create long-term jobs, which would help more than temporary jobs proposed under the current plan, but it would also open a new sector of the economy. Obama’s reversal of offshore drilling is not going to solve the current lack of jobs and the dependency on foreign oil. The Obama administration and other political leaders in our country need to realize this and begin to invest in alternative energy, a sustainable way to reinvent and revolutionize our economy and solve the current problems that face the United States.
Now that our nearby waters will be affected in this drilling, I urge all College of William and Mary students to get informed about this local issue.
E-mail Ben Arancibia at [email protected]