Last year, the prospect of increased domestic drilling became an important issue in the presidential campaign. The right generally claimed that the added drilling would help to eliminate dependence on foreign oil and create a boon of new jobs. The left insisted that the drilling would be a stopgap solution that would do nothing to solve the actual problem: the dependence on oil and natural gas as a fuel.
Conservatives were correct only in the basic ideas of their arguments. Their proposed solution was, at best, highly flawed. It is true that America needs to relieve its dependence on foreign oil. But this must be done the right way. After all, to step up drilling on American soil would merely provide temporary relief from the necessity of foreign oil. After our domestic supply is spent, we would be forced again to buy from overseas. Nothing would be solved. Instead, we need to further develop alternative energy sources.
Included among these should be nuclear, wind and solar power. Each of these has great potential for energy production. Furthermore, the increased use of these technologies would create a great deal of new jobs. The nature of said jobs would guarantee their staying on American soil. So, although it is true that additional domestic drilling would create jobs, it is not the only means of doing so.
Drilling on American soil would invariably cause irreversible damage to our nation’s natural beauty. Fortunately, we have regulations in place to prevent some of this destruction, like the protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Alaskan land included in this refuge is protected by law from any proposed drilling. Nonetheless, it is not safe. The wildlife refuge sits atop a substantial oil reserve. As such, it has been a focus of many oil companies’ attentions. Every year, oil companies argue for the opening of this land for drilling. To the American public, the debate is this: is a temporary drop in oil prices worth the sacrifice of Alaska’s virginal beauty? No. The preservation of natural beauty should be among the highest of human aspirations.
Proposed in tandem with drilling on the American mainland is the idea of increasing off-shore drilling. This proposition is accompanied by a bevy of problems. Oil acquired via offshore facilities must be brought to the mainland in one of two ways: pipelines or tankers. A small leak in the former can release a great deal of oil into the ocean in a short time, causing catastrophic damage to the local environment. Oil tankers, too, are risky. On multiple occasions, oil tankers have spilled, releasing a massive quantity of contaminants.
An increase in domestic drilling represents an augmentation of a problem, not a solution. As Americans, we should consider a dependence on oil to be among our most urgent crises. The solution to this problem is not to be postponed by the mere acquisition of more oil. Instead, it is in science that we must invest to develop safe, efficient means of producing and utilizing alternative energy sources.