Coal Power Plants: Demand Falling, Trouble Rising
Pedal Power Helps Save the Bay

Obama Drills Hole in Chesapeake Cleanup

Oilterminal Drilling off the mouth of the Chesapeake would be a punch in the mouth for the Bay.  Think, don’t drill, baby.

The Obama Administration is reportedly planning to approve oil and gas exploration off of America’s East Coast, including the possible leasing bottom off of Virginia’s coast as soon as two years from now, according to news reports this morning.

Offshore drilling off the Chesapeake and along the East Coast has long been banned by the federal government, and for good reasons.  The potential for oil and chemical spills and environmental catastrophe is too great for a region that is ecologically on life support, and economically dependent on beaches, tourism and seafood.

In 2008, the Bush Administration lifted the executive branch’s prohibition on drilling along this coast.  And then the U.S. House and Senate decided not to renew a Congressional ban that had been in place for more than 20 years.

Now the Obama Administration is looking to push ahead with this bad idea as part of a broader energy strategy that includes increasing the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks.

This makes no sense.  America needs to break its addiction to oil.  And you don’t break an addiction by increasing your supply.  To make an analogy, if America had an alcohol problem, you wouldn’t solve the problem by hunting around for liquor stores where you could buy more and cheaper vodka.

Boosting the fuel efficiency of vehicles is a necessary step. But this effort to convince people to conserve fuel will be undermined if we simultaneously pillage our shorelines and foul our natural landscapes in a desperate scramble to make gas cheaper. The cheaper the gas, the less people care about fuel efficiency.

In a global sense, programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will never go anywhere if our country’s energy strategy is to exploit every last ounce of fossil fuel before we move on to cleaner power sources, such as wind and solar.  Let’s start moving in this direction now.

More locally, what about the Chesapeake Bay?  It would be hypocritical for President Obama to pledge a stronger federal effort to clean up the nation’s largest estuary (as he did last May) and at the same time open the gates for a giant pollution source at the entrance to the Bay.

Drilling would punch a huge hole in the Obama Administration’s Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan. And drilling would leave beautiful and fragile coastlines, such as those along Virginia Beach and Assateague Island, vulnerable to a future as black as oil.

By Tom Pelton

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(Photo from U.S. Department of the Interior)


Comments

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There is just a fundamental lack of political will to do what it takes to begin restoring the Chesapeake Bay. Take a look at Mikulski, been in office for decades, and always talks about getting serious on Bay cleanup...Senator, you've had thirty years to get serious! Same with state politicians. Development in the Critical Areas, wetlands destruction, conversion of open space. The opportunity to clean up the Bay is there, and not one of our elected officials has the courage to take it.

It seems everyone thinks cleaning up the Bay is a great idea, until it comes time to do what is neccessary to make that happen. Awful.

NONSENSE! The Bay cleanup is a separate task,and is in dire need of progress It needs some political will - it is way, way behind the needs curve. I don't see any likely connection to the someday drilling for oil or gas out in the ocean. If you worry about oil spills from wells in the water, you're a couple decades behind - if Katrina and other hurricanes can't make the wells in the Gulf leak, what's to make a problem for the Bay from miles out ine the Ocean. Let's concentrate on cleaning The Bay and let the rest of the world go by.

Although I hardly support this plan to drill so closely to an already declining watershed, I think it's important to understand our countries need to carefully wane ourselves from oil reliance. Since oil will be needed for many years to come, we must examine our absolutist ways and think of more efficient ways to draw oil. Along with that, it is crucial to understand how sacrifices will be made when large amounts of a oil are needed. whether we continue are crusades by obtaining oil from foreign countries or sacrifice our own lands to satiate our need is largely up to us. Everyone strives to see the day when America is no longer dependent on oil, but until that becomes a reality, people will have to decide what they are willing to sacrifice to keep our way of life going.

Even though drilling is one of the least invasive forms of obtaining oil, the benefits are still not worth the risk of destroying the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. This could be a chance to explore alternative energy forms and turn this potential disaster into a good example.

While Obama agreed to exploration for oil, we do not agree, as the Bay is already devastated and anymore damaging alterations would cause even more devastation. The economy and ecology would be extremely at risk: via loss of shoreline tourism, native species, etc. Furthermore, this promotes the production of fossil fuels instead of promoting alternative energy use.

Back when the first oil rigs were being installed off the California coast, there was a lot of protest from environmental advocacy groups, which feared the possibility of pollution damaging marine ecosystems nearby.

Now that some of those rigs are nearing the end of their working lifespan, there is a lot of protest from environmental advocacy groups, who don't want the healthy habitats that developed on the underside of the rigs to be damaged.

We can't have it both ways. As much as I would love to see green energy power America, we simply aren't there yet. Not utilizing energy resources we have at our disposal in favor of some fantasy where green technologies are cost-competitive with existing sources of energy is foolish and shortsighted.

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