Obama recently announced his decision to drill for oil off the northern coast of Alaska, the Atlantic coastline and the Gulf of Mexico. This will obviously not be good for the environment. Drilling oil can lead to oil spills and kill off ecosystems. Burning fossil fuels contributes to climate change.
While this is clearly negative from an environmentalist standpoint, there's debate about how it affects the economy. Greenpeace says drilling for oil today will not immediately affect gas prices and the profits of oil drilling will go straight to the corporations, not to the consumers. In Connecticut, gas prices currently average around $2.90 per gallon, according to AAA. But even if the drilled oil reaches the pump prices in a timely manner, will it make drilling worth it?
There are of course several pro-drilling arguments. Drilling for U.S. oil will also lower our dependence on foreign reserves. To further the argument in favor of oil drilling, we arguably need time to build the infrastructure to create renewable energy and need the fossil fuels to buy us this time. We need the fuels to build the infrastructure, to put up wind turbines or build nuclear power facilities. Additionally, many forms of renewable energy require some amount of oil to start the process of energy creation, such as the transport of substances like LNG or the creation of steam to make electricity.
Should we be drilling for oil now? Is America at some point going to want to drain all of its oil reserves, in which case, maybe it's better to do it now under a president who cares about the environment? (Or at least one who takes a "moderate" stance.) Maybe we're only drilling now because the oil lobby is simply stronger and louder than the green lobby. Perhaps after tackling health care, Obama is sticking to whatever makes American pockets fuller. But was this really a good topic to pick up after health care? President Obama is drawing critics from all sides on this one. Environmentalists are upset, while head Republicans think the assigned amount of drilling will have little positive effect on the American economy. Even if we lower our dependence on foreign oil, it's only by tiny margins, and is still unlikely to quickly come to market, and even more unlikely to affect gas prices at the consumer level. If drilling for oil will have few positive economic effects and potentially be the cause of many environmental hazards, why on Earth are we doing it?