Off-Shore Oil Drilling--Obama Administration Ban

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill this past spring illustrated how the U.S. dependency on oil for energy needs can truly have devastating consequences. This oil spill destroyed the Gulf ecosystem causing both immediate short-term damages and an incalculable amount of long-term damages that are unlikely to be known until years down the road. That is why it comes as good news that President Obama’s Administration announced “A ban on drilling off Florida’s coast in Gulf of Mexico or anywhere else along the East Coast earlier this week. The ban affects waters 150-300 miles off the Florida coast.”

While this is a laudable announcement in light of the BP oil spill, it does of course not come without some criticism. Louisiana Senator David Vitter, for example, expressed concern and criticized the Obama Administration by stating “This alarming announcement is further proof that this administration doesn’t know the first thing about creating jobs.” Overall, the Obama Administration is right to have instituted this ban on oil drilling in light of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the devastation it wrought for the entire region including Senator Vitter's home state of Louisiana.

Senator Vitter's pronouncement that this ban will hurt the economy of Louisiana may be true at least in the short-term, but it has already been hurt by the spill where shrimpers, hospitality workers, and even oil platform workers were all displaced as a result of this spill. Furthermore, he does not provide any evidence that the amount of jobs gained by continuing to drill in the Gulf will off-set the staggering number of job losses as a result of this oil spill. Therefore, instead of criticizing the Obama Administration for the ban, he should be working with them to find alternative jobs in the green sector, ones that are not vulnerable to displacement or loss because of an accident.

It is gratifying, therefore, that President Obama by instituting the ban seems to acknowledge that off-shore oil drilling is not the wave of the future and has many unintended consequences. Now that this ban is in place, he should start working on improving the overall U.S. economy by making the necessary capital investments in renewable energy sources. The workers who once worked on oil rigs in the Gulf, therefore, can now work in the renewable energy sector in terms of manufacturing solar panels for example. The ban, therefore, is an opportunity for the U.S. to begin anew.  Hopefully, the disaster that was the Gulf oil spill turns into an opportunity to make investments in going green.

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