Offshore Oil Drilling
The Obama adminisrtation has recently created a new policy that will allow for offshore oil drilling off the American coastline. This decision comes at a time where we are working towards energy independence as well as a cleaner more stable environment. This policy will affect both of these goals in completly different ways. Allowing for offshore drilling of the Atlantic, Alaskan and Gulf coasts will help temporarily reduce our dependence on foreign oil and increase jobs; however, the amount of resources located off the atlantic coast in particular is of debate and is not enough to create long term sustainability at the current rate of use. This is only a temporary solution and will not change any long term resource problems. Due to this fact and possibility for environmental and economic damage that could be a result of a spill, the negetive externalities far outweigh the economic benefit of drilling. While drilling technologies have improved greatly over the past twenty years, the possibilities for spills and pollution is still a great risk. Not only human error, but storms, technologly failure and installation of platforms will all have the possibility to create environmental problems. The atlantic coast is highly dependent on tourism, recreation and its fisheries for its livelyhood especially on coastal communuties. The impact a spill or disaster would have on these communities would be devastating for the entire coast. The proximity to the coastline of this proposed drilling is also of concern for coastal communities. With a proposed site fifty miles from the coast of Virginia the entire continental shelf will be at risk of oil spills. When one takes into account the amount of ocean species that thrive on the small area of continental shelf versus the opean ocean, the population density of species is over 100 times that of the open ocean in terms of shear volume. As an integral part of the ocean ecosystem and an its influince on the coastal economy the value of the ecosystem of the continental shelf creates this problem of which issue is a more important one and a cost benefit analysis will not take into account all of the externalities of a platform failure of spill.