Obama and his administration have introduced a proposal that would not only open up coastal waters from Virginia to Georgia for oil and gas drilling, but also ban drilling in parts of Alaska such as those located in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The opening of the Atlantic is seen as a huge opportunity for oil companies based on the Eastern front, and Interior secretary Sally Jewell even stated that this proposal will make resources more accessible and protect areas “simply too special to develop”. The proposal plans to open up ten areas in the Gulf of Mexico, three in the Arctic Ocean, and one in the Atlantic Ocean. All of these areas will be required to have a 50-mile buffer to avoid multiple-use conflicts with other activities such as commercial and recreational fishing. However, the ban on drilling in some Arctic waters have angered several Alaskan lawmakers who are already upset with the new environmental protections for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. All in all, many believe that this proposal will bring new revenues and help protect the environment in several areas.
While I do see that Obama is trying to appease both the oil industry and the environmentalists by opening up the Atlantic Coast and closing off areas in Alaska, I think the President should be more concerned about the environmental risks this proposal will bring. Personally, I am afraid that offshore drilling on the East Coast will increase the risks of oil spills (such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill), and will only contribute more to the growing issue of global warming and climate change. Furthermore, I believe this proposal is heavily motivated by economic gains and pays little attention to actually improving the environment.
Do you think the opening of Atlantic coastal waters for drilling is worth it despite the environmental risks?
While this proposal does not require congressional approval, public hearings will take place; do you think much of the proposal will get changed?
Is the balance that Obama is trying to create between oil expansion and environmental protection really working or not? Do you believe one side is clearly gaining more from these plans than the other?