The President stated that this announcement is part of a much broader strategy that will move our nation’s economy from running on fossil and foreign oils to one that “relies more on homegrown fuels and clean energy.” The truth is that we cannot drill our way to energy independence. The United States currently consumes about 24% of the world’s oil while we only hold 2.5% of the world’s reserves. We actually import two-thirds of our daily oil needs. The amount of oil available in the Atlantic and the Eastern Gulf would only last our nation about 13 months of supply at present rates of consumption. No matter what we recover, it will only be a drop in the bucket.
Despite the battle cry of “Drill Here Drill Now”, the Department of Energy states that it will take nearly a decade for any recoverable reserves to even come online. Instead of directing tax-payer dollars toward private companies to extract unsustainable and non-renewable resources, we should be boldly embracing energy efficiency, clean energy fuel development and renewable energy options. This is the only true path forward to energy independence.
The Southeast’s future hangs in the balance
We must not forget what is at risk here. The Southeast coast is home to more than 16 million residents, and the property value along this shoreline alone total $2.2 trillion. We rely on our coastline as an economic engine that attracts diverse visitors and outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy the region’s coastal marshes, barrier islands and other unique natural and historic features. Coastal tourism activity creates thousands of jobs and generates billions of dollars in revenue across the region. Although the President’s proposal is calling for the opening up of federal waters to oil exploration, the onshore infrastructure associated with these activities will change the face and integrity of coastal communities throughout our region. Over 2,000 miles of southeastern shoreline, steeped in rich cultural history would be forever altered for insignificant short-term gains.
“Not only would offshore drilling threaten coastal habitats and place our coastal tourism economies at risk, it is the wrong solution as we seek clean energy options to address climate change. Offshore energy sources such as wind and wave energy can help us break our addiction to fossil fuels while moving towards a clean energy economy. This is the kind of change we are looking for.” – Dr. Stephen A. Smith, E.D., SACE
Let’s drill for solutions not for oil
Yesterday, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy released a statement on President Obama’s proposal. Read it here.