Monday, May 3, 2010

Debate of the Week: Should the U.S. Allow Offshore Oil Drilling? (Updated 2x)

Please comment below. Remember to keep it civil. Don't assume anything about the people you disagree with. I will delete any comments that are offensive or veer too far off topic. Thank you in advance.

This week's topic seems like a no-brainer, considering the massive oil spill in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon rig's explosion and sinking in the Gulf of Mexico.  The rig in question was leased by BP Plc and owned by Transocean Ltd., and its drill was cemented into place by Halliburton just 20 hours before the rig's blowout. BP says it will pay for all "necessary and appropriate" costs for the cleanup of the spill, which President Obama called a "potentially unprecedented environmental disaster."

Speaking of President Obama, just about a month ago he upset fellow Democrats and environmentalists by calling for an expansion of U.S. offshore drilling. He has since decided that the government would delay any new offshore drilling until causes of the explosion and spill in the Gulf have been reviewed.

Supporters of offshore drilling have said it should be part of an all-of-the-above approach to the U.S. gaining energy independence, while opponents, often citing environmental concerns, would rather the country focus time and resources on renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar.

So, where do you stand? As the oil spill spreads in the Gulf, do you think the U.S. should continue to allow offshore oil drilling? Is it worth the risk to the environment and the economy? Do you even think there's much of a risk? Will consumers even see much of a price impact from expanded drilling? What do you think?

Let the debate begin!

UPDATE: Oh, and courtesy of Dick Cheney, here's something else to chew on. Make of it what you will. 

2nd UPDATE: The Governator changes his mind on offshore drilling!

(Photo from the U.S. Department of Energy, via Talking Points Memo


  1. I say drill baby drill... Just kidding. I really think that the U.S.'s abuse of oil is ridiculous. Oil is not going to be a future resource. It will be depleted. Wouldn't it be prudent to save drilling as a true last resource (like if the sun burned out and the wind stopped blowing)? Wind energy / wind mills are sore to many people's eyes, yes, but so aren't oil rigs and the oil that spills from them and covers beaches and animals?

  2. Off shore drilling is estimated to provide us with no more than a ten year supply. It is a very short-term solution, with possibly catastophic consequences.

  3. I'm all for it! If you have any hope humanity will completely move to renewable sources of energy before we deplete our current sources you are severely mistaken. The more oil we use the faster we deplete it, the faster we move to safer and cleaner forms of energy.

    Yes spills like this are horrible and repercussions saddening, but an incident like this can happen naturally from geologic activity. In time the water and shores will be cleaned from this incident, with BP footing the bill. If you ask me we should shift more focus to the floating garbage island in the Pacific that's twice the the size of Texas.

  4. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I agree with Rich James, biotch. We're never going to get to the point where we can live off of cleaner energy sources until we're backed into a corner. If it takes outrageous gas prices and cleaning out our own supplies then so be it.

    I can't believe the reaction around this spill. Who cares? Yea, it sucks, but hey it happens. It'll be cleaned up, and all of it will be pocket change to BP. But I don't see how this can make the Governator change his mind on drilling. Did no one tell him this kind of shit can happen?

  5. e tu Edward? E tu?
    Team anonymous

  6. @Ed: Yeah, this isn't "Obama's Katrina," whatever that means, no matter what many in the media may suggest. However, this is a pretty big deal for three major reasons: 1. Its potential effect on the U.S. seafood industry and jobs, etc. (; 2. the environmental impact isn't just measured in how many dead fish wash up, or how many cute waterfowl are rescued, but by the potential damage to the Gulf coast's already weakened marshlands. And 3., the fact this is no mere "spill." It's more of an oil volcano, meaning it could keep getting bigger and bigger, despite BP's best efforts (

  7. @Ed & Rich: I must admit that there's a certain cynical allure to your idea. It's "extreme practicality," but I disagree with you. It's like telling a fat guy (me, for instance) that he needs to diet and exercise to lose weight and get healthier, but only after he increases his daily fat intake and reduces whatever meager exercise he does to the point where he has a massive heart attack. If you're going to back humanity into a corner like that, then you better be ready for some Mad Max shit because renewable energy technologies aren't going to spring up magically out of desperation. Times like these, when we still have somewhat ample stores of fossil fuels to get us through, should be the points when we accelerate research and development, not when society's on the verge of collapse.

    Ed, I'm particularly disappointed in you. As a Wall-E fan you should know better.

  8. @The Colonel: let's be real... what's more likely, the fat guy dieting because he knows it's good for him, or the fat guy suffering a heart attack and finding the will to diet? Let's face it... when it comes to clean energy, there's a lot we can do better when if we really wanted to. I'd be willing to drive an electric car... and there's no reason I shouldn't have that choice now (Who killed the electric car?).

    Before you try and use a Disney movie against me, I'll refer you back to my Earth Day argument on how the world is going to end anyway. I say let BP worry about the oil spill and then fine them billions to be invested in getting us off this death trap of a planet.

  9. @The Colonel: First off, diet and exercise or you'll get a massive heart attack! How many times have you heard that? What have you done about it? Simply it takes an idiot not to realize the dangers of fossil fuel consumption, and not preparing renewable technology for the future when we deplete our current fossil fuel reserve. What have we done about it? Do we hold politicians accountable for not doing anything about it? Or do we live day to day not thinking about the future, even though we realize how horrible we are going to make it.

    If all of our stores of fossil fuel energy were suddenly gone tomorrow we would still find a way to watch television, and grill big macs, sadly we wont perfect renewable technology until we have no other choice, or until we have manned NASA missions to other celestial bodies.

    I do know one person that is completely on your side though. Even Ozzy feels oil is The Ultimate Sin.

  10. @Eddie: In Wall-E humanity survives when backed into a corner. We develop clean energy when we have no other choice but to do it and get the fuck out! Also in Wall-E we still ate shit and didn't exercise.

  11. Rich/Ed,

    You're argument has one glaring problem: after the U.S. sucks up every bit of oil from our surrounding area, we're not going to alternate sources, we'll just go and pay an arm and a leg to other areas in the world for oil.

    The Middle East has oil supplies that will supply the U.S. for decades upon decades. Either we pay insane prices for it, trade weapons for it or even more realistic, say if another Bush or Cheney gets into office, we go to war for it.

    Plus the more we dig into the earth the more unstable it's going to become. In fact, many scientists argued that oil drilling was a cause for the earthquake in Haiti. It's not like harnessing the sun and wind has been found to have negative effects on the Earth.

    Guys, I understand the cynicism here, but if the right person got into office and truly cared about the environment, we could be off oil immediately. That's a big if, yes, but remember, we did elect that person to office in 2000, only for his presidency to be robbed from him. If we go alternate energy instead of depleting all oil resources in the world, we would still have our "reserves" for a truly rainy day, such as, like I joked before, the sun burning out and wind stops blowing.

  12. "I can't believe the reaction around this spill. Who cares? Yea, it sucks, but hey it happens. It'll be cleaned up"

    ^ Wow are you serious. Terrible. I don't even have words to describe my anger toward that mentality. It doesn't just get cleaned up, it's a major disaster. Offshore drilling needs to stop!

  13. I am against this off-shore drilling plan. I come from a coastal state, and of course fear a spill like what is happening in the Golf of Mexico. I cannot accept “Yea, it sucks, but hey it happens. It'll be cleaned up” anymore than I can accept “Yea, terrorism will happen, people will die, but we’ll move on”.

    Nonetheless, taken from a practical and financial standpoint, this is a terrible deal for the involved states.

    As things now stand, a company leases the ocean space for a rig. A state has the right to the income generated from the lease, and 27.5 percent of revenue produced from the rig, if it’s within 3 nautical miles from the shore.

    This plan will place the rigs between 50 and 135 miles of the shore. States will get no income from the lease, and will have to individually petition the federal government for a percentage of the revenue, and can be denied outright.

    And it is the states with the most to lose. If a spill happens, “it’ll be cleaned up”, but as we’re learning, that can take months. Months of lost tourism revenue. Months of lost fishing, crabbing, shipping, etc. revenue.

    The states have the most to lose and the least to gain. For what? The ability to raise our oil reserves an inconsequential amount?

  14. Gentleman, I wash my hands of this weirdness...
    team anonymous

  15. It doesn't matter any more 2012 is just around the corner


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