Drilling the gulf

President George W. Bush took a departure from his political agenda last week when he downsized plans to drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico. He did this in order to avoid an awkward political situation, which pitted him against his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Many Republicans are disappointed with this decision, concluding it will secure the United States’ dependence upon foreign oil sources. The governor is hailing this decision as a victory for his state and the environment, but he couldn’t be more wrong.

Fortunately, there will be less drilling in the gulf. However, all it would take is one oil spill and the entire area could be devastated. A spill would ruin beaches and crush tourist business, which the area relies on heavily as a revenue source. The drilling itself could pollute the water, and the pipes that carry the oil ashore could make water travel in the vicinity potentially hazardous. This plan, though reduced from its original scale, should hardly be considered a victory. The president has stated the reason he caved on his original plans was to resolve the situation, which was making Gov. Bush a political opponent. This “victory for Florida” did not come about as a result of the governor’s creative negotiating strategy, but from a favor from his big brother, one that President Bush would not have granted any other politician.

President Bush has attempted to hold on to his national energy strategy in order to lessen the dependence of the United States on foreign sources of oil. It has been estimated that the drilling in the gulf will potentially yield enough natural gas to serve one million families for five years and provide enough oil to power one million cars for six years. Then with this short-term gain exhausted, the United States will find itself in the same critical position it is in now. The United States must give more attention to alternative sources of energy so it is not constantly at the mercy of a set of limited resources.

The government has been looking to drill into the Gulf of Mexico, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and even in the Great Lakes. Drilling these areas is only a temporary solution to the greater problem. The resources we could harvest from these places will eventually run out. Instead of drilling into all of our nation’s treasures, President Bush should be considering long-term alternatives. By only focusing on the short term, the president is simply delaying the inevitable and will cause headaches for future American leaders. His administration appears to be backing down on, or toning down many of the promises made during the election and it would be wise of him to also reconsider his environmental positions.