Offshore Drilling, a Huge Boon to Economy, Blocked by NC's Cooper ⋆ American Lens

Offshore Drilling, a Huge Boon to Economy, Blocked by NC’s Cooper

In April, Donald Trump sent shock waves through the environmentalist community with his executive order to repeal a ban on offshore drilling in waters off Alaska and parts of the Atlantic Continental Shelf previously banned by the Obama administration.

“We will make America strong again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And we will make America great again.”

Almost no one who is alive today can mistake who this quote belongs to. Donald Trump promised these words to the American people and he is intent on making them a reality.

Local North Carolinian towns and the greater opposition to the offshore drilling have their opportunities this week to voice their concerns and opinions. Several town halls took place about the prospect of offshore drilling and seismic blasting impacting states such as North Carolina and others.

“There is a threat looming over this coastline that we love and the prosperity it brings, and that’s the threat of offshore drilling. I can sum [my stance] up in four words: Not off our coast,” vowed North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.

Cooper went on a ‘no drilling’ tour along the coast to underscore his stance, which is backed by  environmental justice advocacy groups such as the Sierra Club.

Opponents of offshore drilling in the region, site examples such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill as proof that offshore drilling is dangerous to local fishing economies and the coastal communities.

However, disasters such as the BP oil spill are aberrations, not the norm. The Deepwater Horizon oil rig failed 8 different safety procedures during the spill all of which the Trump administration would keep intact according to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

“The United States has the most stringent, toughest, best regulatory framework for safety and environmental extraction of our resources in the world, undisputed,” Zinke said. “We’re going to make jobs, we’re going to bring the economy ahead.”

Offshore Drilling - Oil RigEnergy independence and security, job creation and deregulation, and national security are several key reasons why constituents in North Carolina and the greater U.S. should support offshore drilling.

It’s no secret that our foreign interests for several decades have been tied to the production and control of foreign oil.

Nearly 11% of our crude oil imports in 2016 came from Saudi Arabia.

From the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security in 2006, “according to the National Defense Council Foundation, the economic penalties of America’s oil dependence total $297.2 to $304.9 billion annually. If reflected at the gasoline pump, these “hidden costs” would raise the price of a gallon of gasoline to over $5.28. A fill-up would be over $105.”

These are conservative numbers and the cost of securing and assisting in the production of foreign oil tops $50 Billion annually at a minimum. Our trade deficit is massively impacted through hidden costs we expend to maintain the influx of crude oil from countries that don’t have our best interests at heart. The production of domestic crude oil will free us from the hidden and visible costs of crude oil imports allowing for wealth to be better allocated to domestic industry.

It is vital to maintain the energy security we need to keep the American engine humming, by making sure we use our resources wisely and effectively to maintain cheap prices for every American. The consequences of cheaper oil are a massive decline in overall prices of goods and services across the board.

Further, the direct impact in North Carolina is estimated at 55,000 new domestic jobs created by commencing offshore drilling in the Atlantic Continental Shelf with a potential $4 billion in revenue to the state over the next 20 years. This coupled with 35,000 jobs for South Carolina and 25,000 jobs for Virginia would produce a huge boon for economic development in these states. Yet Governor Cooper seemingly will categorically deny the state this opportunity.

Republican from the 8th District Congressman Richard Hudson, co-chairman of the Atlantic Offshore Energy Caucus, said Governor Cooper’s opposition to offshore drilling is misguided and partisan politics at work.

“This is not an either-or situation. We can open North Carolina to energy exploration and development while protecting our beautiful coastal waters as well as our tourism and ocean industries,” Hudson said in a statement. “Despite Governor Cooper’s announcement, I will continue to work to get North Carolina into the energy business to unlock good-paying jobs and strengthen our energy security.”

There is no doubt that there are risks associated with offshore drilling. No number of safeguards can be put in place to prevent the unpreventable, however, should we keep ourselves dependent on foreign jobs rather than creating good paying jobs by opening free market possibilities for companies in coastal states? The answer should be no.

By deregulating our drilling capacity we will infuse new domestic economic growth and remove government from the business of handicapping the free market when it comes to energy production. The entire United States benefits from domestic oil production as we are better able to compete on an international market, further reducing the price of crude oil.

The final reason why North Carolinians and Americans should welcome offshore drilling is the overall impact to our national security. By expending billions of dollars overseas to secure oil fields and reserves in war torn countries, we put the lives of our troops in danger and further foster tensions and perceptions in those countries of an imperial United States.

We should have no business placing our military in harm’s way when a simple solution exists to ease the importation of a huge amount of crude oil. While spills like the BP oil spill are certainly damaging and regrettable, are we simply going to turn a blind eye to the fact that we are asking other Americans to risk their lives daily so that we can fill up and travel to our beaches with peace of mind? Is a potential oil spill, which is a huge aberration from the norm, worth risking the lives of our fellow Americans? The answer again, should be no.

The case is clear. The Trump administration has no intention of reducing the safeguards or necessities in place to prevent disasters such as the BP oil spill. After nearly a decade after that spill, the industry has gotten smarter and placed numerous safeguards in place to prevent future disasters.

The Trump administration simply wants to deregulate our economy and allow for domestic businesses to navigate the best options for reducing energy dependence. We must ask ourselves, how many lives lost and how many dollars spent is it worth to perpetuate a system where we continuously hamper the free market? The answer should be none.

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John Bianchi

John Bianchi is a marketing professional and the Chapter Leader for America's Future Foundation in Raleigh. You can keep up to date with his articles on Medium

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