Southeast Coast Oil Exploration and Rigs: Not In My Backyard (NIMBY)

July 8, 2010 by  
Filed under Columns, Your Monthly Bill

“Your Monthly Bill”

with Bill Gillespie

by Bill Gillespie

Southeast Coast Oil Exploration and Rigs: Not In My Backyard (NIMBY)

I remember the campaign war cries from 2008, “Drill Here, Drill Now.”

Perhaps we thought the oil drilling technology had become safer and that the emergency procedures had been refined making the probability of an accident minimal to nil. Many people rightly thought, “Why would we have all these oil rigs off our coasts if they hadn’t figured it all out?”

It appears the industry, to include BP, lacks the capability to deal with accidents miles below our ocean surfaces. Perhaps it is time to rethink our strategy, and perform the proper short-term and long-term assessments based on our needs, wants and values; especially as they impact our coastal economy, the environment, and our way of life. We all want cheaper energy that pollutes less, or not at all, as well as, an industry that helps to employ Americans. So why don’t we explore all options, especially if they are safer and more costly.

Research shows us that the southeast coast’s oil sources would be extremely costly to tap and would make no significant impact upon supply and cost in the US market. Releasing arrangements would provide the states leasing fess and access royalties, during budget shortfalls. Our politicians tend to think in the short-term, so supporting oil exploration for short-term gain will probably happen. However too many issue become loosey- goosey after the oil reserves are used-up and during problems.

Issues like: Who removes the equipment, pipes, and fixes the site areas to their natural condition, and who pays? Usually the tax payer gets stuck with the bills. And what of the “what if” accident! Will the states cap the liability and clean-up damages to entice a big bidder; could on it. Our coast could be forever damaged, and we — at the mercy of the Federal Government for help.

According to a Wall Street Journal online survey taken the week of April 26, more than 65% of the public now oppose offshore drilling. We really need to think about the local and regional impacts. What if South Carolina succeeded in getting and implementing the first oil exploration contract, then while setting up initial wells, they leaked oil down our coastal isles and all over Gray’s Reef. It’s not just a matter of protecting our coastal wetlands and reef; it’s also about preserving the coast’s economy. Georgia’s coast provides billions of dollars in revenue each year from tourism, as well as the region’s thriving shipping, fishing and other related industries. A disaster off our coast like the one unfolding in the Gulf would be crippling for decades.

Why not invest our tax dollars in alternative energy technology that promotes innovative, sustainable ways to use our coastal resources for our communities and future generations, for example. wind, solar, geo-thermal and wave action. There are just as many US and global corporation, as well as small businesses ready to invest in these energy fields. The initial start-up capital is no more than the oil fees; however, the medium (10-15 years) and long range (25-30 year) costs would be significantly cheaper, and with no potential for environmental collapse.

Whatever energy options we choose, we need to avoid significant risks to our treasured resources and future generations. We must insist on thorough and accurate assessments of current conditions and trends, as these reflect the public interest and the region’s future. When information is inadequate to make reliable decisions, we, the public, need to know. We will need consistent, accountable, and fair enforcement of all environmental regulations.

May we choose well, and may BP find a way to stop the leak soon!

Bill

You may contact Bill Gillespie at william.gillespie@us.army.mil

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