Columnists, Columns, Opinion

American Protest: Offshore drilling will hurt the planet

The Trump administration recently announced that American oil and gas drilling will be expanded to nearly all United States coastal waters. This decision will give oil companies access to drilling sites in California, the Arctic and along the Eastern coast.

Many people are happy about this announcement as it will help make America more energy independent, and therefore more economically sound. Relying on Middle Eastern countries for our fuel is risky as it perpetuates this dependency, and looking toward other options for oil can alleviate this concern.

However, there is something bigger at a stake here than just our economy, and that is our planet Earth. In my list of priorities, this beautiful planet that sustains life is more important than the man-made economy of one country.

The announcement was met with much anger and opposition by many states that this would affect, including Republican Governor Rick Scott of Florida. He said in a statement that his “top priority is to ensure that Florida’s natural resources are protected.”

Many other governors are worried about their state’s natural resources and tourism, including those from New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oregon, California and Washington. In fact, it seems like the only people in favor of offshore drilling is the Trump administration and the oil companies themselves.

In response to the decision, industry leader Thomas Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance stated, “I think the default should be that all of our offshore areas should be available. These are our lands. They’re taxpayer-owned and they should be made available.”

He wants our shores to be available for drilling so that he can inevitably destroy them. However, this does not seem fair to the taxpayers he refers to. I for one certainly do not want to pay someone to destroy the beaches I love so much.

As someone who has grown up 15 minutes from the Jersey Shore for the last 18 years, the beach and ocean are very important places for me. I vacation in Long Beach Island, Cape May and Wildwood. I go to Belmar, Asbury, Ocean Groove and many other Jersey beaches regularly.

If I were to see one of those beaches destroyed by an oil spill, I would be absolutely devastated. I love to watch the dolphins jump out on the horizon, and the possibility that they could suffer from an oil spill breaks my heart. Not only would I be devastated, but so would New Jersey’s economy. Our entire tourist economy depends on our beautiful beaches and famous boardwalks.

So, if offshore drilling is still important to you because of economic reasons, you should know that the long-run is much more important to keep in mind. While expanding offshore drilling here may make us more independent in terms of supplying our own energy, it will eventually destroy the economy of tourism for these states through potentially devastating consequences like oil spills.

For example, during the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster in 2010 that killed 11 people and spilled millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida tourism industry was hit extremely hard. Even though we should be more concerned with the environmental aspect of this, there are economic reasons that makes offshore drilling a poor decision.

It’s pretty inevitable there will be a spill with this large of an expansion in oil drilling. It has happened plenty of times before, and history often repeats itself. We are flawed, and so are our machines. This applies to oil drilling, which is already quite dangerous and risky even when everything is operating as it should be.

Therefore, the only option for the United States is to start exploring renewable energy as a legitimate option. It is going to become mandatory someday when we run out of oil and gas, so we might as well start now. If we don’t, we are going to end up destroying our precious planet.

It is essential that the Trump administration stop teaming up with big oil corporations and see the bigger picture. If not, we move that much closer to hitting the point of no return with our planet. Going somewhere else is not an option — this is our home, and we need to start taking care of it.

This Earth we live on is going to be here long after us, and the least we can do is treat it with some respect. This needs to start with destroying the idea of drilling oil everywhere we possibly can.

One Comment

  1. Wise words Meredith Varner. Let’s hope our politicians in Washington and state-wide will listen!!