As a slick of oil the size of Delaware slowly heads towards the southern coast of the United States, sure to bring with it a wave of coastal destruction like nothing we’ve ever seen before, I thought about a conversation I had with a colleague a few weeks ago. At the time, Obama had just introduced plans to open offshore drilling on the East Coast of the United States – the first president to do so. I didn’t care for the idea, but my coworker felt it was a good one. “We need to explore all options” he said, which of course is a very reasonable position to take.

The problem is that oil isn’t a sustainable resource. It won’t be around forever, it won’t even be around in the next 100 years, yet we continue to think of it as “Option A” in the plan for energy independence. In reality, it should be “Option Z”, or better yet, “Contingency Plan Z”. To think of offshore drilling as a way to for the U.S. to become energy independent over the long term is the same as thinking duct tape is a permanent solution for fixing a hole in a flat tire.

To make matters worse, a few days ago Obama’s press secretary Robert Gibbs indicated that the disaster in the Gulf will not change the President’s plan to open drilling on the East Coast. I have to think the pictures we will start to see of the coastal and environmental devastation, which will only get worse until they figure out how to shutoff the flow of oil, will change the President’s position on this.

Still, the statement left me wondering, “Then what the hell would?”

Rahm Emanuel, now famously, once said “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.” In this travesty, Obama has the option to fundamentally change the way we think about using oil. Or he can try to have it both ways, like all the Presidents before him. History will be the judge.
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Joe Payne

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  1. BP's disaster came ashore today at Port Eads. It will completely envelop the Chandler Islands by tomorrow. The people to fix it are costing BP 6 million. How much are they paying for screwing up our coastline? our environment? our fish? our birds? Maybe if a blowout preventer was this important there should have been 5 of them. ~ a NOLA resident

  2. Unfortunately, many American's have the "not on our land" mentatlity. When spills/disasters like this happen in other countries (that we exploit oil from), people rarely hear about it in the news, and really don't care, because it is not geographically close to home.

    The answer would involve moving forward with further drilling, but having tighter regulations surrounding the fail-safe equipment that is supposed to be installed and tested regularly on the rigs. The president can them create more jobs in compliance testing of these rigs. New laws could also put the cost back on the oil companies, make them pay for our tests. Unfortunately, none of this will ever happen.