This Week's CounterPunch Topic: President Barack Obama recently expanded offshore drilling on the East Coast. Should he do the same on the West Coast, and if so, why or why not? -- Ed.
Crane's Punch: President Obama's proposal for offshore oil exploration is a carefully balanced plan that enables exploration in regions with meaningful potential while seeking to minimize environmental impact. It recognizes our national need to have a domestic supply over the short term (the next decade), particularly for economic and military security, while transitioning to a sustainable energy future in the long term.
Avoiding the Pacific Coast and southern Alaska is the right compromise. The Pacific Coast is believed to contain little recoverable oil. The richest fishing grounds of Alaska, its Bristol Bay, should not be disturbed. The measured approach proposed for exploring the southern Atlantic will enable continued evaluation of the risk/reward once geological surveys are complete.
A bi-partisan compromise is needed to enact a comprehensive climate bill. These are the tough decisions to get it done.
Lund's Punch: The president’s action here represents a significant step toward reducing our dependence on foreign oil. By allowing drilling off the coast of Virginia, the Gulf Coast and Northern Alaska, the president will help decrease the cost of our entire economy upon the average citizen. As Americans, we must not be afraid of using oil, natural gas, nuclear power, wind, water, geothermal and solar energy to form a complete energy package for the United States.
Thanks to advanced drilling methods -- and the fact that oil rigs would be put well out of sight of people on land -- coastal oil drilling is no longer something to be feared. If the president is serious about increasing our national energy portfolio, he should discuss options for expanding oil drilling off the California coast with our California federal legislative delegation.
Crane's Counterpunch: Let's not create the wrong expectations. This proposal is not about significantly reducing foreign oil consumption or the price of gasoline. The reserves in the proposed regions only contain an estimated two- to three-year supply of oil. Critically, however, it provides short term flexibility to protect national security while measures to increase energy efficiency, decrease the growth in demand and develop alternative energy sources are implemented.
Lund's Counterpunch: On the contrary -- the federal government has taken surveys, which estimate that there are 10.5 billion barrels of oil off the California coast alone. The president should have allowed for California’s federal delegation and senior state leaders to weigh in on the possibility of drilling off of California’s coast. The people of California deserve a say in securing America's energy future.
Bryan Crane, who is the president of the San Diego County Young Democrats, earned his PhD at MIT in 2005, works at San Diego biotech Illumina and admits to being unable to run in flip-flops.
Andrew Lund is the current President of the San Diego Young Republicans.