Louisiana produces almost 30 per cent of America's commercial fisheries. Only Alaska (ten times the size of the Bayou state) produces slightly more. So obviously, Louisiana's coastal waters are immensely rich and prolific in seafood.
These same coastal waters contain 3,200 of the roughly 3,700 offshore production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. From these, Louisiana also produces 25 per cent of America's domestic oil, and no major oil spill has ever soiled its coast. So for those interested in evidence over hysterics, by simply looking bayou-ward, a lesson in the “environmental perils” of offshore oil drilling presents itself very clearly.
Fashionable Florida, on the other hand, which zealously prohibits offshore oil drilling, had its gorgeous "Emerald Coast" panhandle beaches soiled by an ugly oil spill in 1976. This spill, as almost all oil spills, resulted from the transportation of oil – not from the extraction of oil. Assuming such as Hugo Chavez deign to keep selling us oil, we'll need increasingly more and we'll need to keep transporting it stateside – typically to refineries in Louisiana and Texas.
This path takes those tankers (as the one in 1976) smack in front of Florida's panhandle beaches. Recall the Valdez, the Cadiz, the Argo Merchant. These were all tanker spills. The production of oil is relatively clean and safe. Again, it's the transportation that presents the greatest risk. And even these spills (though hyped hysterically as environmental catastrophes) always play out as minor blips, those pictures of oil-soaked seagulls notwithstanding. To the horror and anguish of professional greenies, Alaska's Prince William Sound recovered completely. More birds get fried by landing on power lines and smashed to pulp against picture windows in one week than perished from three decades of oil spills.
For fear of oil spills, as of 2008, the U.S. Federal government and various states ban drilling in thousands upon thousands of square miles off the U.S. Coast. These areas, primarily on the Outer Continental Shelf, hold an estimated 115 billion barrels of oil and 633 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. This leaves America 's energy needs increasingly at the mercy of foreign autocrats, despots and maniacs. All the while worldwide demand for oil ratchets ever and ever upward.
"Environmentalists" wake up in the middle of the night sweating and whimpering about offshore oil platforms only because they've never seen what's under them. This proliferation of marine life around the platforms turned on its head every "environmental expert" opinion of its day.
Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.