Late last month, President Obama decided to open up Virginia’s coast to oil and natural gas drilling. The move is shrewd politically and has been welcomed by individuals in both parties, including Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms.
McDonnell has greeted the news warmly, stating his desire to make Virginia “the energy capital of the East Coast.” Environmental groups, however, have been vocal in their displeasure of the administration’s measure. While the environmental groups have some legitimate fears about ruining the ecosystem, this move by Obama is also great for Virginians.
First and foremost, according to McDonnell, this will create an estimated 2,600 jobs. There will have to be crews to work the oil rigs, there will need to be more workers at Virginia’s ports to handle the influx of energy traffic and there will be plenty of opportunities for lawyers representing clients that are trying to block development or sue the energy companies.
Also, according to McDonnell, opening up Virginia’s coasts will create “$8 billion in capital investments, $644 million in payroll and $271 million in tax revenue over 10 years,” not to mention the revenue from the oil itself. Virginia’s economy is severely depressed. We need jobs, and we need them now.
Opening Virginia’s coast to oil drilling will also help wean the country off of foreign oil. It isn’t the perfect solution, but it will be at least another 20 to 30 years before alternative energy is even viable. Then we will have to wait even longer for it to be produced in mass quantities with a sustainable market.
With current oil supply expected to exceed demand within 30 years because of China’s rapid growth, we will need to develop short-term solutions. If we can get oil from sources closer to us than Venezuela or the Middle East, there will be fewer opportunities for ecological accidents.
If the United States doesn’t step up and do the drilling, China will. So the biggest question pro-environmentalist groups should be asking themselves is, do we really want China to be drilling for oil when they don’t have any regulations at all?
In my opinion, it would be much better for the environment if America did the drilling, rather than China.
There is also good news for those who feel the arguments for drilling aren’t worth risking the ecosystem. Oil and gas development will take at least a decade before we see any of the effects. If the president was serious about wanting oil, he would have opened up more oil fields in Alaska.
According to Rep. Jim Moran, “Oil and gas development off Virginia’s coast will be a long and drawn-out process whose results will not be known for close to a decade.”
Obama’s political maneuver is designed to attract attention to a climate change bill going through Congress right now. Even if Virginia does develop an oil and natural gas industry, it will only be enough to temporarily sustain the United States.
If we do develop energy resources, it will be a predominately good thing for Virginia and for the country. However, it’s unlikely to happen. Environmentalist groups have little to worry about.