The U.S. Department of Interior over the past two weeks has advanced plans to drill for oil and natural gas reserves off the entire Atlantic coast from Maine to Florida. This plan has generated mostly negative reaction from residents along most of the coastal states effected, particularly in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.
The federal government plans to lease out areas off the coast of the entire Eastern seaboard for the planned exploration of these energy resources despite the potential risks to a massive population if there is an operational incident.
The actions of the Department of Interior have prompted the response from the state level governments which are effected by this potential new energy strategy. The most recent was in my home state of New Jersey, where Governor Chris Christie wrote a strong letter to the Department of Interior vigorously opposing any drilling or exploration efforts off the coast of the state.
Governor Christie cited the potential threat to the marine wildlife, the water, and other natural resources as well as natural habitats. The exploration for these energy sources can have a very damaging effect and the governor maintained that his position has always been against these types of exploratory methods in coastal waters.
My own view, as a resident, is that the Atlantic coast should be off limits to this type of drilling and exploration for a variety of reasons. The first of which is that the New Jersey coast line is a huge economic driver for our state; between the tourism at the beaches, to the fishing industry.
Second, the implementation of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and other exploration methods on land have created a glut in the supply of oil and natural gas. The bigger issue now is what to do with the abundance of the supply of the resources and how to store it until the demand curve resets itself. The industry does not need more resources supplied from the Atlantic Coast, when the U.S. domestic oil and natural gas industry has other areas which currently provide supply.
Finally, I agree with the governors of the Atlantic coast states, the population density especially in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast/ New England would create an environmental catastrophe in the event of an incident in an exploration operation. The sheer volume of people and the pollution potential for such a huge area is a high-risk scenario.
We have a responsibility to protect our natural resources and in this case, the Atlantic Ocean should not be explored for energy reserves in this manner. The risks far outweigh the return. It is my hope that the residents and the state governments can appeal to the federal government on this important matter.
I have grown up at the beach in New Jersey and I have seen the first-hand impact of pollution on the shore. I have also seen the impact of a storm like Hurricane Sandy, which a similar storm system in the future could have a disastrous impact on an off -shore drilling operation.
The Atlantic coast has been immune to exploration for this long a period of time, I do not understand what there is to gain by opening it up for oil and gas exploration at this point. I am hoping that the other side of this debate can make that argument in the coming months. I am hoping that the residents will band together and inform our representatives on both the state and federal level that we are not interested in this type of activity taking place on the Atlantic coast.