President Obama is taking criticism from all sides for his decision to open vast offshore areas to oil and natural gas exploration. Republicans say Obama is taking a baby step that leaves huge untapped energy reserves off limits. Environmentalists say the president is endangering the coastline for nothing, as even with more domestic drilling the U.S. will remain dependent on foreign oil. Should we drill more, or is the soundest energy policy to switch away from oil entirely?
It's time to stop using oil and go green: "The only real way to quit relying on foreign oil is to wean ourselves from oil" altogether, says David Helvarg in the Los Angeles Times. We figured out how the extremely difficult process of extracting "sweet crude" from deep beneath the ocean — "we need to direct that can-do spirit of innovation to large-scale carbon-free energy systems," including solar, wind, and hydrogen fuel cells.
"Oil drilling is a nasty national habit"
Oil is the bridge to cleaner energy: There's no reason to turn our backs on this "offshore bounty," say the editors of The Houston Chronicle. Expanding access to the nation's clean-burning natural gas reserves is environmentally wise in the short term. And if we tap offshore oil "in the cleanest and greenest way" possible while developing carbon-free energy sources, oil can be a "sturdy bridge to a clean, sustainable energy future."
It's time for America to stop drilling and lead: The more oil "we find and burn, the more carbon we put into the atmosphere," say the editors of The Economist, "and the more severe the greenhouse effect becomes." To fight climate change we have to leave some fuels in the ground. Only wealthy nations can afford to do that — and no nation is in a better position to find alternatives to oil than America, "the birthplace of environmentalism."
"Why explore for oil?"
Kicking the oil habit won't be easy: Many green critics say "President Obama is abandoning his commitment to a cleaner, greener future," says Shea Gunther in Forbes. But "getting to that future could be a hell of a lot harder than any of us realize." If Obama's drilling plan is part of comprehensive energy reform that weans us off oil and boosts sustainable energy technologies, it's a step in the right direction.
"Mulling Obama on offshore drilling"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The essential techniques that every home cook should know
- The dangers of our passionless American life
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- Why the West should let Russia have eastern Ukraine
- The real reason conservatives should be outraged that police killed a white youth
- Even critics of the euro didn't see this coming
- 10 things you need to know today: August 29, 2014
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- 4 strategies for organizing your money, based on your personality
- The amazing resurrection of Mitt Romney
Subscribe to the Week