The question of how best to tap deepwater resources in the Atlantic is a serious matter and deserves a serious discussion. But too much of the criticism of the Trump administration’s proposal to open up coastal waters to drilling is based on emotion, half-truths, outright lies and politics.
That’s too bad because the five-year plan to open up America’s offshore waters to drilling is complex and far from perfect.
After announcing the plan, the administration said no drilling would be done off Florida, which eliminates the Destin Dome, the very place in the eastern Gulf of Mexico that the oil and gas industry believes has the most promising resources.
But the issue that really needs to be addressed is whether this plan is the best way for America to meet the need for oil and gas compared with other alternatives.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says that demand for oil and gas is projected to grow in coming decades and that offshore drilling is needed to bolster domestic energy production. Is this credible? Is there a better way?
So far, the critics have not been able to show that the plan is not credible or that they have a better alternative.
The issue is not whether offshore drilling is safe or whether the industry should continue to be punished for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, although it’s clear that is the goal of some critics. The keep-it-in-the-ground approach — many of the same critics also oppose shale production — is based on emotion, not facts. Since the Gulf accident, major improvements have been made in blowout preventers designed to cut off an uncontrolled surge of oil or gas.
Would abandoning offshore oil and gas production and relying instead on solar and wind energy be better? I’ll tell you why not. Even with federal tax credits and state mandates for renewables, solar and wind combined supply only 3.2 percent of the nation’s energy.
America runs on oil and gas. We’re going to be in terrible trouble if we don’t make use of our most important energy resources.
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