Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Obama's Offshore Drilling Plan

Howdy, folks.
Well, I'm feeling a lot better today (thanks for asking). Still not feeling especially inspired to do a lot of writing, but I'm feeling a lot better.
President Obama announced today that he's got new plans to open up large new parts of the American coastline (especially in the Atlantic) to offshore oil drilling. Uhhhh.... this probably isn't really one of President Obama's initiatives that I'm super excited about. On a personal level, this might come as some pretty good news to the Steans Clan, since my dad, The Admiral, works for a company (Cameron International) which makes offshore drilling and pipeline equipment (so this news may help out Dad's company, and in turn, might even help the value of its stock- which I own a little bit of).
I remain very concerned about the environmental impact of these sorts of offshore drilling operations- particularly when they're taking place right off of America's coastline.
On the other hand, offshore drilling is now supposed to pose much less of an environmental hazard than it once did, with improvements in technology helping to reduce the number of oil rigs needed to extract oil, and technology helping to reduce the risk of an oil spill if some catastrophic accident or failure occurs (Dad will tell you all about blowout preventers if you give him half a chance).
But I'm still not thrilled. For one thing, I see this as another diversion from the path that we really need to be on- that path being the development of new, green technologies which cut donw our dependence on fossil fuels. Even if we drill in America's offshore regions, it really only forestalls our real problems- these problems being the fact that we're still going to eventually run out of American oil and the fact that the carbon emissions from fossil fuels are causing global warming. I also still have serious reservations about the environmental impact of the drilling itself. I know that these offshore drilling operations are much safer than they once were, but even one major accident has the potential to cause huge amounts of ecological damage that could easily last for many, many decades.
By the way, I'm not one of those people who wants to spend a bunch of time demonizing the oil industry or the energy industry. For a long, long time the oil industry was pretty much the only realistic game in town, and our whole country was built on the back of the energy provided by companies that provided us with fossil fuels.
But nowadays we know that fossil fuels are harming our environment and rapidly becoming more scarce. We need to be concentrating our efforts on developing fuel sources that are alternatives to oil. Examined in the best possible light, I think this new initiative by Obama can be seen as little more than a stopgap measure in confronting America's constantly growing energy problem.
And, of course, there's a cynical (or realistic?) part of me that sees this latest announcement as a sort of peace offering to the conservative voting population which became outraged by the recent passing of the health care reform bill. Despite the celebration and high fives that were passed around by Democrats following the final signing of health care reform, in truth Democrats have got to be seriously worried about the political fallout of that action. Given the fact that we live in a country that has a whole lot of conservatives in it (it's often said that they probably comprise a slight majority of the population), it's impossible for any leader to truly disregard their popularity among the people on the right (unless, of course, the leader doesn't care about getting reelected and staying in office). Conservatives were against health care reform, but they're in favor of increased domestic oil production. If Obama thinks that this sort of oil production can be achieved in a relatively safe way (at least safe in terms of ecological disasters- the carbon emissions question remains more questionable), then I guess it isn't that surprising that he's willing to lift the moratorium on offshore drilling along America's coastlines.
Ugggh. I... just... don't.... know....

Well, this post was kind of a downer, but it's really all that I have time for today.
The weather outside is still great, though!
Got to get outside an enjoy it!

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