There will be those who strongly disagree with this decision, including those who say we should not open any new areas to drilling. But what I want to emphasize is that this announcement is part of a broader strategy that will move us from an economy that runs on fossil fuels and foreign oil to one that relies more on homegrown fuels and clean energy. And the only way this transition will succeed is if it strengthens our economy in the short term and the long run. To fail to recognize this reality would be a mistake.
On the other side, there are going to be some who argue that we don't go nearly far enough; who suggest we should open all our waters to energy exploration without any restriction or regard for the broader environmental and economic impact. And to those folks I've got to say this: We have less than 2 percent of the world's oil reserves; we consume more than 20 percent of the world's oil. And what that means is that drilling alone can't come close to meeting our long-term energy needs. And for the sake of our planet and our energy independence, we need to begin the transition to cleaner fuels now.
So the answer is not drilling everywhere all the time. But the answer is not, also, for us to ignore the fact that we are going to need vital energy sources to maintain our economic growth and our security. Ultimately, we need to move beyond the tired debates of the left and the right, between business leaders and environmentalists, between those who would claim drilling is a cure all and those who would claim it has no place. Because this issue is just too important to allow our progress to languish while we fight the same old battles over and over again.
For decades we've talked about how our dependence on foreign oil threatens our economy -– yet our will to act rises and falls with the price of a barrel of oil. When gas gets expensive at the pump, suddenly everybody is an energy expert. And when it goes back down, everybody is back to their old habits.
The speech seemed condescending and relied on a demagogic call for energy independence. Despite decades of subsidies for "clean" energy, it isn't expanding as a percentage of our total energy production. Subsidizing "clean" energy is a bridge to nowhere, not to a brighter future. I for one don't want "clean" energy if it is more expensive when factoring in environmental costs and this is the rub. My guess is that a great many environmentalists believe that carbon emission is a bigger environmental danger than spills from drilling and shipping oil. The IPCC, Nobel laureate Al Gore, and Obama administration officials have warned of catastrophic economic consequences of environmental inaction.
From the right, critics claim that increased carbon emissions are not harmful, that data has been compromised, misused and tortured. The evidence of higher concentrations of carbon dioxide leading to catastrophic warming are unquestionably less robust than six months ago (For an example of data problems see Christopher Horner, "Climategate: Three of the Four Temperature Datasets Now Irrevocably Tainted," Pajamas Media). If being an environmentalist means that you are concerned with having a healthy and beautiful environment, I am one, but I believe that in the United States we should focus on reducing traditional pollutants and better forest management.
The production of "clean" energy ignores an important fact. Every type of energy production pollutes. I don't like the land intensive nature of ethanol production and wind turbine electrical power. I am not sure that we have good enough data to monetize our tastes.