The First District Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the state of Florida would not be required to compensate the Coastal Petroleum Company for lost revenue. Florida denied Coastal a permit that would allow it to drill offshore for fossil fuels, a step that some claim would lower the dependence on fuels from outside the United States. While it is understandable that some would rather support the usage of native fossil fuels and the further severance of U.S. ties with the Middle East, there are clearly better alternatives to achieve this.
According to biotour.com, more than 90 percent of the energy consumed by the United States comes from fossil fuel sources. In 2001, more than 19 billion gallons of petroleum oil was consumed, making up about 26 percent of the consumption for the world. The main concern for some critics is not the actual consumption of the oil, but rather the source from which we are getting it. The 2002 report by the British Petroleum’s Statistical Review of World Energy stated that a majority of the fossil fuel left in the world is not located within U.S. borders. The United States has approximately 30 billion barrels of reserved oil, making up roughly 2.9 percent of the world’s total oil supply.
Companies like Coastal that obviously have a vested interest, claim that the answer is to drill offshore or do “exploratory drills” in Alaska. Even exploratory drilling, however, has the potential to cause substantive damage to an ecosystem.
Furthermore, even if America was to find the quantity of oil experts claim exists, this would not be nearly enough to cover the vast energy demands of the nation.
Other energy sources seem far more promising, even though they still require research and funding to become commercially viable. Hybrid cars, which partially rely on batteries that recharge themselves during “normal gasoline” use are achieving around 50 miles per gallon, are already on the market. Fuel cell technologies seem even more promising. A car that runs on water would be a welcome environmental aid as well as a boost to the economy.
The rationale for any decision on drilling should be based on long-term considerations rather than shortsighted options that could threaten entire ecosystems and Florida’s tourist industry. As Attorney General Charlie Crist said, “This process has been a long journey, and ensuring the security of our precious environment is worth every step along the way.”