Jane Van Ryan
Posted May 13, 2010
A number of prominent voices in the energy debate are discussing the need for continued safe, environmentally responsible offshore oil and natural gas development. EIA estimates demonstrate that the United States will consume 14 percent more energy in 25 years, including alternatives, renewables and oil and natural gas.
A USA TODAY editorial from yesterday explains that limiting or banning offshore drilling would deny our nation access to 40 to 60 billion barrels of recoverable oil--about six to eight years of current U.S. consumption.
With about one-third of U.S. oil production coming from the Gulf, the editorial makes the point that we need oil, but we also need to find out what went wrong in the Deepwater Horizon tragedy and apply the lessons learned. We couldn't agree more.
A Maritime Executive op-ed by Dr. Michael Economides, University of Houston Professor and Editor-in-Chief of the Energy Tribune, discusses the accident, response efforts, and "associated ideological overtones" on both sides of the political spectrum. Economides also reminds readers that offshore incidents are quite rare:
"...the industry's track record in environmental stewardship is actually exemplary...It would also serve to point out how rare these instances are in an industry that serves such a vital function in the U.S. economy."
On the Houston Chronicle blog, Bernard Weinstein, associate director of Southern Methodist University's Maguire Energy Institute, echoes the industry's 41-year exemplary safety and environmental record and mentions that "no process of mineral extraction is completely risk-free."
Similarly, in a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel op-ed, J. Allen Wampler--former assistant secretary for fossil fuels with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)--says that while the possibility of an incident may always be with us, the benefits of energy development largely outweigh the risks:
"The government needs to expand oil and gas development as well as alternative energy sources if this country is to ensure that it has adequate energy supplies. This would stimulate the economy, provide well-paying jobs and reduce dependence on imported fuel."
As the oil and natural gas industry redoubles its commitment to safety and response practices, these voices stress that offshore drilling is a crucial component to our nation's energy policy. Using the Deepwater Horizon accident as an excuse to limit energy development would be short-sighted.
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