Issue of Drilling Oil in the USA

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Off-shore oil drilling has now become a source of heated debates. Once off-shore drilling is mentioned in a casual get-together, the excitement disappears like it wasn’t there. Regardless of having over 40 million acres free for development along OCS (outer continental shelf) of the US, discussing on how more areas along the coastline should be opened for development is risky similar to talking politics and religion. Why does increasing the number of acres for development make people angry? 

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A considerable part of the disagreement comes from conflicting approximations of what it means to increase offshore drilling to the environment and the economy. Those who advocate for drilling insist that increasing local production of oil would lower the cost of gas in the country the environment is negatively impacted by the country’s reliance on foreign oil (“Oil and Gas Stakeholders”). It is important to note that oil drilling has an evident impact on crop farming due to degradation of the soils around the mining areas (Kisic 211). Critics have a firm stand on the issue, and they state that production of oil locally would affect domestic supply, cost of oil and negatively affect the ecosystem. 

Environmentalists have gone to the extent of suing the government to stop it from drilling oil and gas on a vast land in Nevada. One of the organizations involved in this case is the Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity which states that the US government did not look into the effects of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking (“Environmentalists’ Lawsuit Aims to Block Oil Drilling on US Land”). Fracking ranges from contaminating desert water sources to damaging the greater sage grouse and emission of carbon dioxide which causes global warming. The suit filed by this group was seeking an order which would force the bureau to withdraw leases allowing oil drilling. The environmental group asked the judge to restrict the issuance of permits which would increase the drilling area to 767 square kilometers until those responsible for drilling comply with Environmental Policy Act together with other rules and regulations which require extensive assessment of potential impacts of fracking. Although fracking has increased the level of natural gas production, it has raised anxieties that it can lead to earthquakes and contamination of drinking water. Fracking uses a combination of chemicals, sand and pressurized water to extract natural gas and oil underground. The lawsuit also stated that the process produces hazardous and carcinogenic pollutants which are released into the water and air. Additionally, the lawsuit stated that this process could lead to global warming due to the emission of high amounts of methane. 

Under the new administration, the White House is working on overturning a five-year plan by Obama’s administration which forbid exploration of gas and oil in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. Trump’s administration is examining opportunities to increase oil and gas drilling off the US coast (Fears) (LaMonica).  Officials in the interior department stated that the new administration would open more areas in the OSC for exploration in a bid to make the United States a leading producer of oil, the creation of employment and stimulate coastal activity. Trumps administration stated that the plan by Obama’s government to keep offshore continental areas off-limits is not feasible considering the number of jobs which will be created once exploration and drilling begins. Trump’s government estimates that exploration and drilling will create over 300, 000 jobs (DiChristopher). It is evident that Donald Trump is bound to relax environmental rules and regulations which will be good news to oil and gas drillers (“Trump’s ‘Energy Dominance’ Push Ignores Some Important Realities.”). Based on sentiments on this issue from Trumps administration, it is clear that gas and oil exploration is not based on regulation but by economics. At the very end, it is about the cost of oil and how oil producers feel about it. 

Economists state that although oil drilling has transformed towns such as North Dakota and Williston, it is not easy to measure the impact of drilling on the country’s GDP, jobs, and wages as suggested by Trump (Fears). Most governments and consultants use an input-output model to make projections on how different activities affect the economy. However, some economist’s state that this model is not suitable for calculating how drilling will affect other sectors of the economy and most scholars do not agree with the method since results and outputs largely depend on assumption (Kaufaman). Economists state that increasing the level of oil drilling and production in the country would lead to a delay in rebalancing which has a significant effect on price recovery, applying more pressure on oil drillers and producers. 

However, they state that the price of oil will eventually recover hence essential to lease more federal land for exploration before the rebound. Additionally, specialists in economics say that increasing oil drilling in the country will lead to energy spill over (“What Trump’s Pro-Drilling Stance Means for Oil, Gas Industry”). A good example to illustrate this would be that an increase in oil production will lead to a rise in some cars bought per year which increases economic activity in an area (Kaufaman). Likewise, most of the jobs created would not relate directly to gas and oil exploration. It is estimated that about 75 percent of the jobs created would be high-skill and high wage employment. 

Sentiments by Trump’s government on how they intend to increase the level of oil production in the country raised eyebrows among energy experts (DiChristopher). Most analysts stated that comments by Donald Trump did not consider complex issues of regulatory tradeoffs, energy markets, climate risks and technology trends which make up the landscape of the country’s energy policy (LaMonica). Experts said it could be compared to putting old wine in new bottles. Energy experts gave two realities on this issue. 

One of them is that by pushing natural gas and oil drilling in the country will lead to more greenhouse gas emissions while other nations in the world are trying to reduce and eliminate this emission. Secondly, past policies are encouraging market forces, which Trumps administration can easily reverse, are leading to an increase in the use of efficient and renewable energy which have an impact on the economy (“Trump’s ‘Energy Dominance’ Push Ignores Some Important Realities.”). Although projections by energy experts in the country indicated that the USA was on the right track in becoming the leading oil producer in the world, Trump went ahead and declared that his administration would increase oil exploration and drill in the country (LaMonica). Analysts state that increase in oil drilling and production is due to a decrease in cost drilling and exploration and not change or regulations in the country. 

A public outrage in 1969 led to the creation of an environmental movement after oil pollution in Santa Barbara beaches caused the death of birds and foul smell of decaying matter at the beach (Molotch 133). The public has a say in oil drilling matters, and the government has to listen to their concerns. In 1980, Regan’s administration was barred from opening California shores for drilling. In most beaches, members of the public have to be consulted before transportation or storage of oil is done in their area. 

Any transport or storage of oil has to be approved by the public through voting. People do not want to see oil spillage. The order by Trump cannot immediately change such things unless the cost of drilling is lower than before (DiChristopher). However, Trumps order to increase levels of oil production is good news for other people especially the youth. Increase in oil exploration and drilling will increase job opportunities in the country. Energy consumers especially drivers and industries owners welcome this move. Oil drilling and production in the country will lower the price of oil. Members of the public will be happy with reduced costs of energy since it translates to lower cost of production and eventually more profits. 

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Oil drilling in the USA is a debatable issue. Different stakeholders will take different stands on the issue (“Oil and Gas Stakeholders”). Environmentalists will be against oil drilling in the country stating that it pollutes the environment. Environmentalists have presented numerous petitions in court barring the government from increasing oil exploration in the country (Smith). These sentiments are shared by public members who have to vote for oil and to transport from the shore to a storage facility. The government takes a different stand believing that increased exploration will benefit the economy through an increase in job opportunities and reducing the cost of oil in the country. Analysts and experts in the fields of energy and economy believe oil drilling in the USA has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages is that there will be an increase of job opportunities while on the other hand there will be an increase in greenhouse gases emission. Although oil drilling is a debatable issue, its pros and cons are clear.  

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  1. DiChristopher, Tom. “Trump’s Drilling Talk Is Long on Hype, Light on Economics.” CNBC, 2017.
  2. “Environmentalists’ Lawsuit Aims to Block Oil Drilling on US Land.” Asbury Park Press, 2017.
  3. Fears, Darryl. “Trump Says The Atlantic, Arctic Could Soon Be Open to Oil Drilling.” Washington Post.
  4. Kaufaman, Alexander. “The Oil Industry Needs Taxpayers to Prop Up Nearly Half of Its New U.S. Drilling.” Huffpost, 2017.
  5. Kisic, Ivica, et al. “The effect of drilling fluids and crude oil on some chemical characteristics of soil and crops.” Geoderma 149.3 (2009): 209-216.
  6. LaMonica, Martin. “Trump’s Offshore Oil Drilling Push: Five Essential Reads.” The Conversation, 2017.
  7. Molotch, Harvey. “Oil in Santa Barbara and power in America.” Sociological Inquiry 40.1 (1970): 131-144.
  8. “Oil and Gas Stakeholders.” Planète Énergies, 2017.
  9. Smith, Eric. “Offshore Oil Drilling Might Make Environmental Sense.” Washingtonpost.Com, 2017.
  10. “Trump’s ‘Energy Dominance’ Push Ignores Some Important Realities.” Insideclimatenews.Org, 2017.
  11. “What Trump’s Pro-Drilling Stance Means for Oil, Gas Industry.” USA TODAY, 2017.
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