Offshore Oil Drilling
Faulty Opinions vs. Reality
By: Tim G
Who likes to swim in water with oil on top of it? No one does, but this has happened and will continue if we drill for oil in bodies of water. Oil doesn't only spoil water, it also wrecks beaches and environments. Many animals will eat or breath in the oil and die from the oil. White, sandy beaches will turn into black, oil covered coast. Offshore oil drilling should not be allowed due to the damage it causes to the environment, with or without an oil spill, and the lack of revenue that it will provide.
Environmental Consequences of Offshore Oil Drilling Spills
Oil Spills are dangerous to the environment. No matter how advanced the clean up techniques are, the oil will still make its mark. The following are two examples of the devastating effects of an offshore oil drilling spill.
Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
The Exxon Valdez tanker ran ashore in Prince William Sound, Alaska in 1989 ("Key"). The tanker spilled about 11 million gallons of oil that covered over 1,000 miles of Alaskan shoreline (“Key”). This disastrous spill killed many different types of animals including fish, birds and otters (“Key”). The Alaskan coastline environment was damaged badly, with estimates ranging from three to fifteen billion dollars of damage (“Key”). This is just one example of how dangerous offshore oil drilling/ transportation can be.
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
Another example of how dangerous offshore oil drilling can be is the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The Deepwater Horizon rig was one of the most advanced oil rigs ever (Hunter 18). On April 20, 2010, some of its natural gas caught fire and exploded, killing 11 people and leaving many injured (Hunter 18). Lots of different water animals were affected including seabirds, fish, shrimp, dolphins, turtles, sharks, squids and even jellyfish (Landau 19). People who relied on the sea for jobs went out of business, including shrimpers, oyster farmers, fisherman and boat captains (Landau 19) (“Deepwater”). One third of The Gulf of Mexico was closed to fishing ("Deepwater"). Tourism plummeted in towns on the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the oil spill (Landau 21). All of these effects clearly hurt the economy and environment of the Gulf of Mexico.
Above: An otter caught in the oil from the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
Below: A picture showing the extent of the oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon.
Area closed for fishing from the oil spill of the Deepwater Horizon.
Oil washing ashore in Louisiana due to the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.
A seabird covered oil from the Deepwater Horizon rig.
Destroying Without Spills
Even when there isn't an oil spill, finding oil and drilling it can still be harmful to the environment. When oil companies do seismic surveys to find the oil, they disrupt the whale’s ability to communicate (Hunter 24). When a spot is believed to have oil, the drillers have to confirm its presence by pumping out minerals from the ground (“Offshore”). These minerals pollute the ocean water (“Offshore”). Many offshore oil drilling rigs have pipelines to transfer the oil to land. These pipelines hurt the seabed of the ocean and can corrode over time, releasing oil (Hunter 26). Offshore oil drilling is harmful to the environment even when there isn't an oil spill.
Concession and Rebuttal
In reality offshore oil drilling wouldn't make the U.S. less dependent on foreign oil. Offshore drilling would only increase oil supplies in the U.S. by one percent (“Offshore”). The extra oil would only fulfill U.S. energy needs for a short period; it wouldn't be a long term solution (“Offshore”). The money spent to find oil reserves and to drill them should instead be spent on a renewable energy source that won’t run out, such as wind energy ("Offshore"). New sources of energy would be more reliable and long lasting than oil ("Offshore").
The profit from offshore oil drilling doesn't justify the negative effects of ruining animals habitats and the jobs of people living there. The negative affects of the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon disasters go to show how devastating oil spills can be. Environments were damaged, beaches became oily, and many people were put out of work ("Key") (Landau 21). Without spills, the water still gets polluted when minerals are pumped out to confirm oil's presence ("Offshore"). Finally, the small amount of income that it would provide doesn't outweigh the negative effects. Its time to look for a new source of energy, one that doesn't kill animals, jobs, and people!
"Deepwater Oil Drilling." Issues and Controversies. Facts On File News Services, 2 Aug. 2010. Web. 10 Feb. 2014. <http://www.2facts.com/article/i1500410>.
Hunter, Nick. Offshore Oil Drilling. Chicago, IL: Heinemann Library, 2012. Print.
"Key Event: Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Fouls Alaska Coast." World News Digest. Facts On File News Services, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2014. <http://www.2facts.com/article/v00034>.
Landau, Elaine. Oil Spill!: Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Minneapolis, MN: Millbrook, 2011. Print.
"Offshore Oil Drilling." Issues and Controversies. Facts On File News Services, 5 Dec. 2008. Web. 10 Feb. 2014. <http://www.2facts.com/article/i1300640>.