The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Money Spent on Big Oil Could be Better Spent on Renewable Resources

3 min read

Guest Columnist

When inaccuracy and manipulation become the foundation of popular opinion, it’s time to call into question those who spew these “truths.” If the average American citizen knew the actual environmental ramifications of offshore drilling, they would not blindly follow the whim of dogmatic politicians, who largely cater to corporate avarice.

With the election of Barack Obama, the American people saw a new epoch of political responsibility, an idea radically different from the past eight years of American politics. However, the change Obama fought so ardently for is seemingly not the change he promised during his campaign.

It seems Obama has sold out to political pressure, while not enforcing the liberal values he promised would heal the wounds of America. Any American who ostensibly calls themselves a Democrat may follow the President’s empty rhetoric, but those who truly concern themselves with this country’s environmental issues cannot find comfort in the words of Obama’s offshore drilling plan.

The momentum for the environmental movement in this country began in 1969, in Santa Barbara, Calif., where an offshore oil platform suffered an inconceivable spill. For eleven days, oil spewed from the platform, releasing an estimated 200,000 galloons of oil, spreading 800 square miles. The oil caused massive lung hemorrhages in dolphins, poisoned any animal that ingested it, destroyed whale breeding grounds and killed an estimated 4,000 seabirds.

Yet some claim “environmentalists have little to worry about” when discussing offshore drilling. Even with advances in technology, there is no guarantee that these oil platforms will not leak or spill. Since this event in 1969, a moratorium was installed that effectively banned most offshore drilling operations in the United States. President Bush as well as Senator John McCain both supported ending the moratorium and to begin offshore drilling.

While campaigning, Obama stated, “what wouldn’t do a thing to lower gas prices is John McCain’s new proposal, a proposal adopted by George Bush as well, to open up Florida’s coastline to offshore drilling.” He also stated there would be “long term consequences for our coastlines, and no short-term benefits, since it would take at least 10 years to get any oil. Well the politics may have changed, but the facts have not.”

It seems the politics have changed for President Obama. He continues to say “offshore drilling will not lower gas prices” and “we won’t see a drop of oil until 2017. You wouldn’t see any full production until 2030.” The U.S. Energy Administration released data in 2009 that stated lifting the moratorium would have no impact by 2020, and by 2030 projections suggest it could lower gas only by an estimated 3 cents.

Why spend taxpayer money irresponsibly to appease big oil companies, when the money could be spent investing in renewable energy resources? They would be an effective method of ending our dependence on foreign oil. This plan seems to be a feeble attempt to gain Republican support, especially with midterm elections in the near future.

Whom does it concern that this is happening? It seems the American citizen has retreated into the realms of complacency and subservience. Perhaps when refineries are built in Norfolk we will accept the inevitable realization of our apathy. Perhaps when Virginia waterways become as polluted as Cancer Ally, on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast, will we stop and ask how this happened. Until then, let us submit to our own ignorance.