Oil-addicted America looks for a new fix in the Atlantic


There’s still a week left in 2013, but it’s pretty clear that America is going to start the new year pretty much the same way that that current one began: Hopelessly addicted to fossil fuels. This week I saw a story in the news that pretty much sums up where this nation is at, as we prepare to celebrate the holidays. While there has certainly been some good news this year on the environmental front, mostly in the form of increased public awareness about the risks of fracking, unregulated oil transport or offshore drilling, our public officials for the most part still haven’t gotten the memo. They are setting a course for the 21st Century to suck every last drop of oil from Mother Earth, regardless of the costs…and regardless of the potential hazards.

Here is the latest:

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Southern politicians and energy industry groups are increasing the push to allow drilling off the U.S. Atlantic Coast for oil and gas deposits that could be puny or mean big cash to a part of the country where it’s now largely absent.

Although drilling, refineries and the jobs that could accompany them are at least a decade away, the Obama Administration is weighing a decision expected to be announced in the next three months on whether to take an important early step: to allow seismic testing of the sea bottom. The tests could firm up estimates of how much hydrocarbon deposits may be out there.

This comes from a president, I’ll remind you, that was elected for the first time in 2008 promising to lead an American revolution in renewable energy. Now, they’re instead launching an undersea treasure hunt that will likely kill dolphins, whales, and other sea creatures, even if no oil is discovered:

Environmentalists still say oceans and sea creatures would be harmed by drilling or even seismic testing. Public hearings over the past two years in New Jersey, South Carolina and elsewhere by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management attracted opponents to testing with undersea air guns they say can harm whales, dolphins and fish.

“The industry wants to paint the picture that the Atlantic is oil nirvana, that we can exploit the resources and the states will become rich, unemployment will be solved, and it will do everything but take out the garbage,” said Derb Carter, North Carolina director for the Southern Environmental Law Center.

This is the latest, and one of the more insane, examples of extreme energy exploration, where humankind — increasingly, Americans and our energy companies — is scouring the ends of the earth for every last drop of fossil fuel. A lot of what you’ve been hearing about on the environmental front for the last couple of years — fracking for oil and gas buried in deep shale formations, offshore drilling in the frigid Arctic, and deepwater drilling of the type that resulted in 2010 in the worst oil-spill disaster in U.S. history — all stem from this same deeply flawed impulse. Now, this proposed push for oil off the American Atlantic coast would harm sea creatures, pose the risk of another Deepwater Horizon-style catastrophe, and, ultimately, contribute to the global warming that threatens our entire planet.

As 2014 approaches, America doesn’t need a New Year’s resolution. It needs an intervention.

To learn more about the new oil rush to allow offshore drilling in the Atlantic Coast, please read: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/23/offshore-drilling-atlantic-white-house-seismic-exploration_n_4493799.html?utm_hp_ref=green&ir=Green

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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