This is a response to both Erick Ford’s post and Ethan Frey’s post on Offshore drilling.  You can read both of their excellent posts here and here.

The issue of offshore drilling is one of peace and security for the United States, but it is more than security between nations.  Offshore drilling can affect the security of our own nation – some of the places they are proposing to drill are along fault lines or may be along fault lines not yet discovered. The lifted ban allows drilling to occur off the coast of Alaska where courts had previously halted drilling until environmental assessments could be done.

This is not a new tactic.  President Nixon tried the same approach back in the 1970s during the oil crisis where oil jumped to $43 a barrel.  Offshore drilling was not the best answer then and it is not the best answer now.  Offshore drilling is not the answer to decreasing our dependence on foreign oil – finding alternative energy sources is. However, the American ideal of materials = success (although this ideal is slowly changing thanks to a new generation of globally-minded people!!) is difficult to change.  I am unsure whether the United States can effectively adapt to an alternative energy source because it would be a change in how we live. I spend a lot of time in classes and at lectures listening to people talk about decreasing our dependency on oil, but have yet to hear an effective answer other than to have people drive less.   I have not heard an approach that I think would work other than changing lifestyles.

There is a lot of discussion about our dependence on foreign oil as a major problem area and obstacle for the United States to overcome.  However, I think the problem is discussed in the wrong framework: it is not our dependence on foreign oil that is the problem but our insistence on not utilizing the research already down and funding further research on biofuels and other sources of alternative energies.

President Obama has run and been elected on a platform of change, and I think he is working toward change.  However, his decision to lift the ban on offshore drilling is largely seen as a concession to Republicans who are holding up a stalled climate change bill.  How approval for offshore drilling doesn’t counteract a comprehensive climate change action is a mystery to me, but that’s politics.  At its heart, this issue in an environmental one – and environmental issues have traditionally been rejected as a non-priority by policymakers, which is why it can be used as a trade-off – one negative environmental act in exchange for one positive one.  Maybe this is the environmentalist in me, but I think that the more we recognize the importance of our environment and the dangers of a continued reliance on not only foreign oil, but oil in general, the more likely it will be that environmental issues will not be used as pawns in the games of politics.