Does anything out weigh the importance of our planet’s health? You would be surprised by the number of people who look the other way when it comes to keeping the planet clean. Offshore drilling is just one of the major environmental issues that has existed for many years and still continues to be a problem.
The topic of offshore drilling not only touches on environmental issues but also political, economic, and ethical issues. All of these tie into the huge debate over offshore drilling and its impacts on the environment. But when the human race depends on oil, how can we ignore the fact of drilling for oil off the coast of our land. Investing in greenhouse energy is just one of several ways to help keep the environment clean and continue to get the energy we need.
America needs to realize that offshore drilling is a leading factor in pollution and we can’t keep collecting oil like this forever, we need to discontinue this process of drilling off shore and expand our possible options of renewable energy.
So you might be asking yourself “how does offshore drilling affect our environment?” It all starts with finding the oil. The oil companies use a system like sonar that sends out waves, these “Seismic waves used to locate oil can harm sea mammals and disorient whales.
ExxonMobil recently had to suspend exploration efforts near Madagascar after more than 100 whales beached themselves” (HowStuffWorks). Just the thought of going to your local beach to find a whale washed up on the shore helpless is scary and sad. The seismic surveys designed to estimate the size of an oil and gas reserve generate enough force to damage or kill fish eggs and larvae.
They also can leave some fish without hearing leaving them unable to fend off predators. After finding the location of oil they have to clear out the sea floor of the location to begin a process of laying out pipes for the “rigs”.
While reading in an article called “The Environmental Impacts of Offshore Oil Drilling,” I found that “Between the actual footprints of the drill rig, undersea pipelines, dredging ship channels, and the cuttings and other drilling debris, there are many elements of drilling that leave a lasting impact on the ocean floor”. It would be almost like having a freeway place right through your front lawn.
After affecting the life within the ocean from just finding the oil and having a rig built to drill for it, there is another form of environmental disruption, water pollution. “Whenever oil is recovered from the ocean floor, other chemicals and toxic substances come up too — things like mercury, lead and arsenic that are often released back into the ocean” (Haerens, Margaret).
All of these toxins can be deadly to fish and reduce the number of bottom dwelling creatures. Author Lee, A. Davis of “Environmental Disasters” Talks about how, “These toxins affect the life in the ocean. Some examples of ocean life would be; Oysters, shrimp, and fish. Then as they feed upon the food chain, which can be contaminated at any point, they come either too polluted to eat, and so decompose, or die of the effects of the pollutions” (14).
An average oil and gas exploration well spews roughly 50 tons of nitrogen oxides, 13 tons of carbon monoxide, 6 tons of sulfur oxides, and 5 tons of volatile organic chemicals. (Haerens Margaret). The possible amount of pollution done is overwhelming, and this isn’t what most people fear most about when they think of offshore drilling.
The biggest problem most people have with offshore drilling is the dangers it has when not regulated correctly. Rick Jervis Welch author of an article on a website that is dedicated to helping prevent oil spills, states that “The 2002 National Research Council report found that Marine Transportation, an offshore drilling company, was responsible for one-third of worldwide petroleum spillage, about eight times the amount caused by drilling platforms and pipelines” (Welch, Rick Jervis, William M). Not only does the spillage occur at the rigs, but they have found that there is even a big risk when transporting the oil to land.
Still people make the argument that oil is just too important to stop drilling and that if anything we should drill more. Again author Margaret Haerens talks about how “According to the nation academy of Sciences, current cleanup methods can only remove a small fraction of the oil spilled into the ocean, leaving the remaining oil to continue affecting ocean ecosystems over time” (126).
The long term impacts of offshore spills continue to corrupt the oceans and who knows when they will completely be gone. The effects of the oil directly on sea life such as sea birds, fish, shellfish, and other sea life are extremely dangers.
“Studies have shown that tiny amounts of oil – as little as one part per billion – can harm pink salmon and cause their eggs to fail” (Haerens Margaret). Imagine swimming in the ocean when a large pool of toxic oils comes floating along right into you when you are trying to enjoy a day at the beach.
Not only is offshore drilling have one of the longest lasting ecological impacts on society and living things on and off shore, it effects our economy as well. But is offshore drilling hurting the economy more than it is helping? At this point in my research is was pretty clear that it was.
Author Margaret Haerens, goes to great detail concerning the price of oil and its effects of drilling more of it by saying “Oil spills exact a serious toll on costal economies, including our approximately 35 billion commercial fishing and 60 billion ocean and coastal tourism and recreation industries” (124). And will drilling more and cutting corners help with the gas prices for people?
“According to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, drilling in areas previously closed to oil and gas drilling by presidential and congressional action “would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production . . . before 2030 ( the end of the analysis period.)”
(Haerens Margaret). Within that amount of time a lot of things could change, and should change. “If we could reduce our oil limitations to the 1990 level – approximately 7.2 million barrels per day – we would save approximately 90 billion per year, moreover, we would release 174 million fewer metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, radically slowing the accumulation of greenhouse gases and thus reducing the severity of global climate change” (Klare, Michael T).
This would be a huge change and help to both our economy and environment. But imagine if we completely stopped consuming oil. Oil is something that needs to be replaced by something more economically smart and ecofriendly. “We must act now to become less dependent on oil and increase our supply of renewable and sustainable energy sources” (Haerens Margaret).
Time is running out for our reliability on oil. America has shifted in the right direction concerning oil and alternative solutions, but are we working hard enough? Other countries like Japan and China have put forth the importance of reducing the need of oil and, the cars they produce are out selling American manufactures by a lot. I think it is time for Americans to realize what is happening before it is too late.
I feel if we can start to limit the amount of oil we take in and consume as a country it will buy us more time to work on a new reliable resource. We also need to tighten up our safety procedures when it comes to offshore drilling and focus on the health of our planet. It is clear that offshore drilling is environmentally dangerous and has negatively impacted our coastlines, yet the safety procedures we need to follow are being neglected. “We can decide that solving our energy crisis will be one of the great projects of this generation,”
This statement made by President Barack Obama truly defines what should and can happen. He is essentially challenging the people of America to step up our duties and lead this environmental revolution. We as a country have the power to solve the energy crisis, and must not sit back and wait for other people to do it for us.
I feel the first steps towards fixing this problem is by cracking down on oil companies and preventing pollution to keep it as low as possible, once that is done we must do our part in reducing the amount of oil we use. I don’t mind having to carpool to school or take other forms of transportation. The importance of keeping our planet clean cannot be expressed enough, and needs to be addressed before it becomes too late and places like our beaches are too dirty to even go to and enjoy.
Davis, Lee A. Environmental Disasters. New York: Facts on File, 1998. 133-80. Print. Haerens, Margaret. Offshore Drilling. Detroit: Greenhaven, 2010. Print. HowStuffWorks. Web. 26 Oct. 2012.
Klare, Michael T. Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Petroleum Dependency. New York: Metropolitan /Henry Holt &, 2004. Print. “The Environmental Impacts of Offshore Oil Drilling.” HubPages. Web.26 Oct. 2012.
Welch, Rick Jervis, William M., and Richard Wolf. USA Today. Gannett. Web.27 Oct. 2012. .