Oil and Water Don’t Mix
2016, Middle School, Prose
Imagine that you are at the beach during the summer; you are standing in the sand and looking out into the open sky and the clear blue water. Suddenly something catches your eye in the distance. There is an oil rig about a mile from the beach. All of a sudden you begin to notice the gas and pollution billowing out from the rig into the sky. You look into the water and see spots shining with gas, reflecting the sun. You walk down the shore and notice dead fish floating around on the surface the water and lying, washed up, on the beach. The ocean doesn’t look so beautiful anymore does it? You wonder, how did this happen? How did we let this happen?
In recent years the United States Department of the Interior, who is in charge of managing and conserving U.S. land, has opened up discussion of making the Southeast Coast of the U.S available for oil and gas leasing. This would allow oil and gas companies to drill for offshore oil along the East Coast and parts of the Gulf of Mexico. Some may say that more oil drilling will benefit the United States by creating new jobs, lowering gas prices, and lessening our reliance on foreign oil. In reality, oil drilling will devastate the ocean environment, negatively affect the economy and cause oil spills that can be extremely dangerous for nature and people. The government cannot move forward with this plan or it will ultimately ruin the East Coast.
Oil drilling alone has tons of negative effects on the ocean environment. Oil drilling releases thousands of gallons of water that have been polluted by toxins like benzene, zinc, arsenic, radioactive material and other substances that are used to lubricate the drill and maintain pressure. The PEW Charitable Trust has found that one oil well can discharge 1,500-2,000 tons of this waste material. This waste, called “drilling mud”, can accumulate on the sea floor and cause malformations, genetic damage, and death in fish embryos. Also, according to beachapedia, during an oil rig’s lifetime, it causes an equivalent amount of air pollution to the amount released by 7,000 cars driving 50 miles per day. This is an incredible amount of air pollution that cannot be avoided unless major transformations are made to the oil drilling technologies. Also, seismic surveys, which must be done before drilling to estimate the size of an oil reserve, use gun arrays to release high-decibel explosive impulses which map the ocean floor, but also make noise that can damage or kill larvae, fish eggs, and impair the health of fish. These are some ways that oil drilling causes pollution, but there are many more and together they are all devastating to the ocean environment.
These environmental hazards are not even nearly as disastrous as the inevitable oil spills can be. Oil spills are dangerous and uncontrollable. They can be caused by a number of things like natural disasters, equipment faults, and more. Smaller oil spills are extremely common and large ones usually occur one to two times each year. Oil can kill or cause deformities to any fish, bird or other animal that ingests, absorbs, or inhales it. According to the National Wildlife Federation, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico killed as many as 167,000 sea turtles, directly killed 2-5 million larval fish and the spinner dolphin population will take more than 100 years to recover from the loss their population suffered because of the oil. This is only a small example of how an oil spill can affect an environment and it will even further affect the ecosystem because of the imbalance in the food cycle. Also, oil spills can be dangerous to humans. Eleven workers were killed during the same oil spill. Explosions often occur on the oil rigs when oil spills happen and they can be very dangerous for any workers or people nearby. Also, oil spills are very hard to clean up after and no matter how much money is put into the clean up the affected area could take hundreds of years to really recover. The Exxon Valdez was a tanker that crashed causing one of the largest oil spills in the history of the U.S and even though it occurred over 20 years ago there is still more the 26 thousand gallons of oil in the soil along the shore line. Oil spills are clearly terrible disasters that are not worth the amount of oil supplied by oil rigs.
The East Coast’s economy can be negatively affected by off shore oil rigs because of how they will negatively affect their tourism and fishing industries which are both very important for their economy. Oil spills and ocean pollution caused by drilling will ruin the population of fish along the Atlantic Coast which will hurt the fishing industry and can ultimately cost the people in that industry jobs and money. Tourism industries can be destroyed by dirty beaches, lack of wild life and dangerous oil spills. Also, recreational fishing which is a major attraction for tourists would be much less appealing with a smaller and less diverse population of fish. Would you want go to a beach covered in oil where it’s dangerous to swim in the oily water? Some may say that the oil industry is more important economically, but that is not true. According to Environment America, the annual value of tourism and fishing in states along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts is $204 billion, which is about 4 times larger than the value of any oil that may be found along the coasts. Throughout the U.S there are more than 4.5 million people employed in tourism and fishing along the coasts. That is 4.5 million people whose jobs are being jeopardized by off shore oil drilling in the U.S.
Overall, the U.S needs to reconsider their plan for opening the Atlantic Coast to oil drilling because of the negative effects it will have on their environment and economy. Many people say that opening oil drilling in the Atlantic will lower the price of gas and lessen our reliance on foreign oil traders, but really the Department of Energy estimates that oil imports would only be lessened by about 2.5% by 2030 and that the maximum reduction of gas prices would be between three to four cents per gallon. Opening more oil rigs is unnecessary and is not the answer to any of our problems. Instead we should be trying to create more sources of renewable energy that will be better for our environment, will create many new jobs and will lessen our reliance on oil to begin with. This way we can finally begin to take steps towards a cleaner and better future for America.
Oil+gas. “Description of Oil Lease.” Description of Oil Lease. Oil+gas, 2006. Web. 31 May 2016.
Beachapedia. “Beachapedia.” Offshore Oil Drilling -. Beachapedia, n.d. Web. 31 May 2016.
Environment America. “No Offshore Drilling.” Environment America. Web. 31 May 2016.
Angelova, Kamelia. “U.S. Beaches That The Oil Spill May Ruin Forever.” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 04 June 2010. Web.
I was inspired to write this story by the research I did on oil spills. The pictures and videos of the nature affected by major oil spills were very emotional for me because I really care about animals and the environment. I hope that after reading my essay, people are more aware of oil pollution and try to support renewable energy resources and technology.