Offshore Drilling: It's ALL About the Oil

In April I wrote about offshore drilling and how, politically, it wasn’t about the oil, given that the estimated recoverable reserves were unlikely to substantially impact our reliance on foreign sources of petroleum (the EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2010 assumes import reliance will remain near 50% through 2035, down from 57% in 2008); it was about securing votes for climate change legislation. 

Today, in light of the Deepwater Horizon disaster that is entering its 3rd month, I’m writing that offshore drilling is now all about the oil and, in particular, its disastrous consequences for the people, economies, and environment in the Gulf of Mexico. 

So while it’s likely that oil will continue to play a dominant role in the future of our transportation system for some time, and that offshore drilling will play a role too because of its importance to the economies of the region (albeit a much more closely supervised one than up till now), it’s also clear there is a need to accelerate our pursuit of alternative methods of transportation and transportation fuels in order to balance out our portfolio.  Because it is now starkly apparent that keeping our beaches and oceans clean is as important to our economy as mitigating our reliance on foreign oil is to our national security.  There’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to accomplish both.