President Obama's proposal to remove the twenty year-old moratorium for some regions on offshore drilling and to expand it in existing drilling areas is ill-conceived, dangerous and inconsiderate to the millions of young people who helped elect him. When the world, especially America, is looking to decrease its dependence on a dirty fossil fuel in favor of cleaner, renewable energies, the expansion of drilling in the Gulf Coast, Arctic and newly-opened Atlantic seaboard to eke out only a few years worth of fuel is ridiculously unsustainable.
Regardless of numbers, the environmental hazards involved are enough to make a sensible person reject such proposals. Hurricanes, which have increased in strength and number over the past few years, roll through the Gulf Coast and Atlantic Ocean with enough frequency and force to almost guarantee a future oil rig disaster. Oil rigs can blowout on their own if their drill ruptures, a possibility backed by historical reality when an oil platform in the Pacific blew out in 1969, leaking 200,000 gallons of oil that eventually covered an 800 square mile area. The possibility of ships crashing and spilling oil in the water and on beaches is also backed by historical examples, need I remind you of the Exxon Valdez spill in the 90s.
I can't lie; I only became really concerned about this issue when I learned my stretch of the Atlantic Ocean would be included in new leasing. Say goodbye to the pristine coasts of the Outer Banks and Assateague Island; the dolphins will probably have to migrate (or worse) since the noisy underwater drilling will fuck with their sonar and give them headaches. The seagulls, herons, pelicans and other seafaring birds will live in fear of their habitats getting covered in black ooze, and will see their food supplies diminish. Humans swimming close to oil rigs will enjoy an increase in cancer and other mysterious diseases. And the sea turtles are simply too old for this shit anymore.
Solutions on halting this potentially destructive practice abound, but to stop a fast-moving train, you'll probably need the consent of the conductor. While Obama did state his position on offshore drilling during the campaign, he did not outline this specific proposal clearly, and it comes as a slap in the face to many environmentalists. I have heard that most drilling won't start until 2012 (get your clean beach time in while you can!), but this doesn't excuse Obama from continuing where the Bush Administration left off (and I thought we were voting for change in how business was done!). Perhaps state legislatures will actively try and prevent this, or the states in affected regions will band together and pass congressional bans on new leasing in their waters. Or the people will mobilize in enough numbers to make Obama reconsider. Whatever the case, action must be taken and the word must be spread that the future of our beaches and coastal waters is in danger all because of our reliance on oil, imperial budgeting and corporate greed.