The Devil’s Advocate: Is President Obama’s decision to allow offshore drilling in the Atlantic a sensible one?

In Columns, Opinion

By Melissa Maldonado

Daily Titan Staff Writer

President Obama’s approval for offshore drilling on April 1 seems like it could be a cruel April fool’s joke. But we’re still waiting for the punch line.

In what appears to be an attempt to gain support for Republicans in Congress, Obama reversed his campaign promise and opened 500,000 square miles of U.S. coastal waters for oil and gas exploitation, undoing the policy for the first time in over 20 years.

Even though our precious Pacific Ocean was spared of the new plan, areas off the Atlantic coast, northern coast of Alaska and eastern Gulf of Mexico were not so lucky.

Whether it was a compromise or attempt to maintain some miniscule of environmentalist support, Obama banned offshore drilling in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, the largest source of seafood in America and home to endangered whales. However, the ban on this treasured body of water could be lifted in 2017. Then what?

Obama stated that the decision was not made lightly but “drilling alone cannot come close to meeting our long-term energy needs, and for the sake of the planet and our energy independence, we need to begin the transition to cleaner fuels now.”

So lets build off shore plants, dig into the ocean bottom, and spew gallons of oil around for the mere sake of our mother Earth. Can you say catch-22?

Environmentalists around the world are appalled at this betrayal and assault on the seas, considering the risk is astronomical for a diminutive reward.

Interior department officials said the now open seas are thought to contain the equivalent of a measly three years annual U.S. usage of recoverable oil and two years worth of natural gas.

Economists acknowledge the fact that it will be at least a decade before the offshore oil will enter the economy and it won’t be until 2030 to see a noticeable effect, a mere three or four cents cheaper per gallon of gas. Is the potential and inevitable environmental damage worth that?

The August 2009 oil spill in Australia reiterated the catastrophic effects of offshore oil drilling gone wrong, yet our president still believes it’s a good idea. For 10 weeks, the crippled deep-water oil rig leaked millions of gallons into the ocean between Australia’s northwest coast and islands of Indonesia, claiming the lives of sea snakes, birds and dolphins.

According to the Committee Against Oil Exploration (CAOE), an oil rig can dump up to 90,000 tons of drilling fluid and metal cuttings over its lifetime, including produced water, which is excess water from well drilling or production consisting of oil, drilling fluid, and other chemicals used in or resulting from oil production. Sound yummy?

Yet, there is a simple and passable solution to offshore drilling. If our cars and trucks got an average of just a couple more miles per gallon, we’d save more oil that exists off the entire coast of Florida. Still, federal gas mileage standards leave much room for improvement.

Now, doesn’t that seem like a more logical alternative than spewing oil into the ocean, killing wildlife for a few cents off per trip to the pump? It won’t be long before Obama’s latest slogan “drill, baby, drill” will turn into “drill, baby, oops.”

By Brian Zbysenski

Daily Titan Staff Writer

Last week, President Obama announced that he approved offshore drilling off the U.S. coasts of Virginia, Alaska, mid-Atlantic, south-Atlantic and the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

This is something that hasn’t been done in decades, and may be the most significant advance in offshore energy in decades.

In order to sustain our energy costs and perhaps lower the cost of energy, this is a huge step in the right direction. Not only that, but doing so could also be the beginning of the end of dependence on foreign oil, and ultimately help out our already dwindling economy by keeping our own money in the country and creating more American jobs.

The major reason we are not doing this today is because of environmental concerns.

In 1969, there was a major oil spill in Santa Barbara that triggered an environmental movement and this movement has made sure oil drilling platforms were seen as dirty and thus helped to get them banned.

However, oil spills have dropped significantly since the 1970s and are safer more than ever, according to

“There have been no catastrophic oil spills from U.S. platforms since 1969, even as more than 4,000 offshore platforms operate in U.S. waters.”

They also mention that from 1971-2000, offshore facilities only accounted for two percent of the oil in American waters. 63 percent was from the oil naturally making its way into the water and the other 22 percent can be chalked up to industrial runoff.

So generally, over the past four decades, spillage is a minor concern due to new ship designs and more strictly enforced safety procedures.

This country uses massive amounts of energy each day and something has to be done. We are all trying to be a little “green” by shutting off lights. We are using less, and recycling more products. But this will not be enough, and our dependence on energy doesn’t seem to be decreasing any time soon.

According to an article on, senior economist at the American Petroleum Institute, Sara Banaszak, said that there could be an “immediate impact” if drilling were to start. It would be a “strong signal” to the future of the oil markets and could benefit us in lower costs of fuel and energy as a whole.

Since our economy is still below ideal, and domestic energy can be made cheaper and create jobs for our own people, we need to see this as a step forward. Technological advances make it safe for us to do so, and since nuclear energy still isn’t popular for the same reason as offshore drilling, we need to start somewhere.

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  • Morpheus

    Despite my having some disagreements with him. It’s great to hear that Obama at least accepts the reality of our need for some oil use in the near future. Thankfully at least he’s listening on the oil issue where he should be.

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