by Marita K. Noon
President Obama’s announcement Thursday ordering the suspension of work on 33 exploratory wells currently being drilled in the Gulf of Mexico was no surprise. The moratorium on new permits for deepwater wells was expected and the cancellation of a lease sale in the western Gulf of Mexico was par-for-the-course. Even the revocation of a proposed lease sale off the coast of Virginia and the halt to planned exploration off the coast of Alaska might have been foreseen.
Surely the Deepwater Horizon’s explosion and the subsequent massive oil leak is a disaster of epic proportions. The lives and livelihoods lost cannot be ignored. They need our prayers. All hands should be “on deck” to help clean up this catastrophic mess and get the population and ecosystems back on their feet.
But Obama’s political posturing hurts more than it helps.
The exploration wells and permits now on hold have been in the pipeline for years. Each represents hundreds of jobs as is evidenced by the 126 people who were on board the Deepwater Horizon on April 20th. And these are just the jobs on site. Each requires multiple-hundreds of support jobs, both on shore and off, and many more to manage the production. The process takes years of preparation and expertise to choreograph the equipment, exploration, and extraction.
While the President’s actions are not a surprise, the combination of the lost time and resource will come as a shock to the pocketbook of every American.
Just as we head into the summer diving season, gas prices—which before the cessation proclamation had been pleasantly low—are predicted to top those of the summer of 2008. The disaster did not adversely impact prices as that well was exploratory. It was not yet a part of the fuel supply.
However, to halt all exploration and potential new resources is like a frost killing an entire crop in one region. We still have lettuce, for example, but what we can get from other sources—both American and foreign, is suddenly more expensive because there is less to go around and it will be months before the damage to the supply chain can be bolstered. We can keep using it, but it will not be replaced. The frost is an act of God. The announcement Thursday is from someone who thinks he’s God.
The refineries have fuel now, but where will it come from next month, or the month after? There will be less to replace it so what we have now will instantly be more expensive.
Couple this with the administration’s push for some kind of global warming legislation. The current bill, Kerry/Lieberman, will hurt our cost-effective supply electricity from coal, will kill jobs in coal producing states and irreparably hit the pocketbooks of millions of Americans who depend heavily on coal-fueled power plants such as West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Wyoming and New Mexico.
Obama’s political posturing may appease his base, giving the sense that he is finally doing something, but it will hurt the lives and livelihoods of far more people and make all of our energy more expensive. What does he think we are going to do in the heat of the summer when people are literally dying of the heat because they can no longer afford to turn on their air conditioner? When the predicted hurricanes hit, how will people escape when gas shortages keep them from being able to fuel their cars? Obama admits that renewables are not there yet and that we’ll need traditional fuels for years to come.
Energy gives Americans life and livelihood. It provides jobs—more than ten million direct jobs in the combined energy industry.
We’ve seen multiple tragedies within the energy industry—many great Americans have died in their efforts to provide us with all-important energy. While the best brains in American are working to increase safety, improve efficiency, and discover additional resources, those workers did not die in vain. They are as important to everything that is America as are our troops fighting overseas. Each time we flip on a light, put gas in our cars, turn on our computers, use our cell phones, or are comforted by the convenience of climate control we should remember and give thanks for these brave Americans.
America needs more domestic energy production, not less.
We have an abundance of resource on shore—but much of that is off limits too!
Making us more dependant on dictators who wish us harm, hurts more than it helps.
Marita Noon is the executive director of the Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE), a nonprofit organization operating from the platform of "Energy Makes America Great" and supports all domestic energy development. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.responsiblenergy.org
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