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Offshore Drilling Issue

Although efforts have been made to find alternative fuel sources, at this time the United States continues to be dependent upon oil for the majority of its energy needs. Unfortunately, the nation does not produce enough oil domestically to meet this need. Therefore, the U.S. must import foreign oil from unstable regions of the world such as the Persian Gulf. Studies indicate that the United States imports half of the 6 billion barrels that it needs each year, at an annual rate of approximately $42 billion (Sheet, 1990, p. 35). It has been noted that as much as 50 percent of the nation's current trade deficit is due to this large-scale importation of oil ("Oil and Water," 1990, p. 16). Because of this situation, it has been argued that the United States should make a greater effort to exploit domestic oil resources. Although there are many onshore sites for oil, the most exploitable regions are located offshore, along the continental shelf. It has been estimated that as much as 35 billion barrels of oil may be found along the coastal waters of the United States (p. 16). In order to obtain this oil, new offshore drilling platforms would need to be established, similar to the ones that already exist in the Gulf of Mexico and along the coasts of California and Florida. However, many Americans are adamantly opposed to the idea of building new offshore drilling sites because of the ecological risks which are involved. Because of this public consensus, the U.S. government has stopped "leasing most offshore tracts to oil companies" (p. 16).

The major environmental risk which is involved in offshore drilling is that of an oil spill. The disaster of March 1989, in which the Exxon Valdez tanker accidentally dumped tons of oil into Prince William Sound near Alaska, is still fresh in the minds of most Americans. This disaster was a shocking visual example of the ecological damage which can occur as a result of a large oil spill. Med...

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Offshore Drilling Issue. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 20:22, August 06, 2020, from