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Monday, May 3, 2010

Jonathan Capehart : Sarah Palin makes sense -- on offshore drilling

Leave it to an ecological disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico and lapping up on the shores of Louisiana to put me and Sarah Palin on the same page. Usually, when the former Alaska governor issues something on Facebook, I roll my eyes at her empty rhetoric about common-sense conservative solutions or some-such. But on the issue of offshore drilling, Palin's Friday missive makes sense. There, I said it.

All responsible energy development must be accompanied by strict oversight, but even with the strictest oversight in the world, accidents still happen. No human endeavor is ever without risk – whether it’s sending a man to the moon or extracting the necessary resources to fuel our civilization. I repeat the slogan “drill here, drill now” not out of naiveté or disregard for the tragic consequences of oil spills – my family and my state and I know firsthand those consequences. How could I still believe in drilling America’s domestic supply of energy after having seen the devastation of the Exxon-Valdez spill? I continue to believe in it because increased domestic oil production will make us a more secure, prosperous, and peaceful nation.

No, domestic oil production alone will not make the United States more secure. “I want to emphasize that this announcement is part of a broader strategy that will move us from an economy that runs on fossil fuels and foreign oil to one that relies on homegrown fuels and clean energy," President Obama said on March 31 in announcing his comprehensive energy strategy, which includes unpopular (but necessary) plans for off-shore drilling and nuclear power.

In a New York Times opinion piece yesterday, Lisa Margonelli of the New America Foundation brought up an issue that Americans pushing for a halt to the president's plans as a result of the Deepwater Horizon disaster would do well to keep in mind. "Moratoriums have a moral problem," she wrote. "All oil comes from someone’s backyard, and when we don’t reduce the amount of oil we consume, and refuse to drill at home, we end up getting people to drill for us in Kazakhstan, Angola and Nigeria — places without America’s strong environmental safeguards or the resources to enforce them."

To illustrate her point, Margonelli points out that "Nigeria has suffered spills equivalent to that of the Exxon Valdez every year since 1969. (As of last year, Nigeria had 2,000 active spills.)" After noting that this nation's oil consumption has increased by two thirds since the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill and our import of oil has nearly quadrupled, Margonelli points out an inconvenient truth. "Effectively, we’ve been importing oil and exporting spills to villages and waterways all over the world.

Obama's visit to the Gulf Coast yesterday underscored just how bad things are and could be. But I won't join the chorus demanding that off-shore drilling be stopped forever in the U.S. for one simple reason: Until renewable energy sources are more widely available we have no choice. We need the fuel. (Source Washington Post)

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