Jane Van Ryan
Posted May 20, 2010
Whenever this nation is confronted by a major incident such as the Gulf oil spill, opinion-leaders step forward to offer their thoughts in print and online op-ed pages. Their comments are often thought-provoking and informative.
Last week in The Los Angeles Times, for example, Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren of the Cato Institute lamented the "profound intellectual poverty" that is informing the current energy-policy debate, and argued that the "demand for zero environmental risk is unrealistic." They wrote:
"As long as human beings are involved in drilling (or coal mining or petrochemical refining or nuclear power operations or oil transport or natural gas delivery), accidents will happen. The environmentalists' call to flatly reject expanded offshore drilling as unacceptably risky is ill-considered...The fact that few Americans are willing to shut down existing platforms suggests that, for the most part, we intuitively understand there are benefits to drilling that ought to enter into the conversation."
One of the benefits of offshore drilling is improved energy security, said Steve Maley on FOXNews.com. Maley, who is operations officer for a small Gulf coast energy company, added that the rhetoric surrounding U.S. energy policy doesn't match the nation's energy reality:
"Despite all the advertising by "green" interest groups and administration rhetoric, DOE's Energy Information Agency forecasts increasing use of petroleum through at least 2030. That same forecast also assumes explosive growth in renewables, including biofuels. Our appetite for energy is voracious. As "green" as we'd like to think we are, individual consumers change their consumption habits very slowly. So increased oil consumption, absent domestic growth of supply, necessarily means more dependence on potentially hostile regimes and less security at home."
Similarly, author and personal finance expert Peter Dunn argued it's important to prevent accidents from occurring, but this nation should not stop looking for oil and natural gas entirely. As he explained in the Indianapolis Business Journal:
"Responsible exploration is needed now more than ever before. The White House and other political leaders have noted that, despite this accident, we will need more oil and natural gas for decades to come. Producing our own energy helps increase the nation's energy security, creates American jobs and generates revenue."
In an op-ed published in several papers and on Web sites around the country, API's President and CEO Jack Gerard summed up the industry's thoughts on the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. He noted that the industry is focusing its efforts on stopping the leak, cleaning up the oil, and working with government to identify the cause of the accident. "We owe that to the nation that has placed its trust in us to responsibly develop our oil and natural gas resources," Jack said, adding:
"This was an unprecedented occurrence, and it is an unprecedented industry response. It has to be. America relies on oil and natural gas and the economic growth and job creation they fuel. Producing energy our nation needs is our job. Producing it safely is and will continue to be our most important obligation."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.