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EDITORIAL: Gulf better than Arctic for oil drilling

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Last week nearly 400 scientists sent a letter urging President Obama to eliminate the possibility of Arctic offshore drilling in the near future. They want the president to take the Arctic Ocean out of the next federal offshore lease sale plan, and their reasons are obvious.

The Arctic is, of course, brutally cold and sometimes lashed by unimaginable storms. Should those conditions produce a major oil spill in that fragile environment, the damage would be massive – and extremely hard to respond to.

That’s a risk that doesn’t have to be taken, especially because oil demand has slowed so much in recent years. Moreover, the United States has a much closer body of water for oil and gas exploration – the Gulf of Mexico.

Drilling in the Gulf has finally recovered from the disastrous BP oil spill in 2010, when 4.9 million barrels of oil devastated the Gulf’s water and beaches. That was one of the worst environmental disasters the world has seen, and for a long time the Obama administration and many environmentalists said offshore drilling was too risky.

But the BP spill, as bad as it was, was quite rare for the Gulf. And even though it took too long to seal the broken well head, the temperate conditions of the Gulf and easy access from nearby ports helped complete the process as soon as possible. If a spill like that had occurred in the frigid and inaccessible Arctic, the environmental damage clearly would have been even worse.

Oil and gas from the Gulf can also be processed quickly in coastal petrochemical plants – like those in Southeast Texas. The high-paying jobs in those facilities provide a real boost to area economies.

America just doesn’t need Arctic oil now – or maybe ever. It has a much closer and warmer source of petroleum that should be fully exploited.


TAGS: Oil, Gas


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