After decades of paranoid hemming and hawing, last month the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management finally approved oil exploration in Federal waters along the Atlantic coast from Delaware to Florida.
‘The announcement is the first real step toward what could be a transformation in coastal states,” says the Associated Press report, “creating thousands of jobs to support a new energy infrastructure. But it dismayed environmentalists and people who owe their livelihoods to fisheries and tourism.”
Alas, this “dismay” afflicts only the greenies from Delaware to Florida. From New Jersey up through New England the greenie hysteria against offshore oil exploration prevailed. This superstition among the local worshippers of Earth Goddess Gaia proved as intractable as the one that once mandated burning witches by New Englanders no less “enlightened.”
“With today’s decision,” whined Claire Douglass, campaign director at the environmental group Oceana, “President Obama is bowing to pressure from Big Oil rather than listening to the thousands of voices calling on him to protect our natural resources and coastal economies.”
Well, allow me to present the call of “thousands of voices” and specifically from “people who owe their livelihoods to fisheries and tourism.” Their call, based on over half a century of experience with offshore oil production (including the ultimate test: the BP Oil Spill!) says: “Drill, Baby, Drill!”
With over 3000 of the 3,700 offshore oil and gas production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico off her coast, Louisiana provides almost a third of North America's commercial fisheries. As a trivial sideline these oil production platforms also extract 80 percent of the oil and 72 percent of the natural gas produced in the Continental U.S. This “sideline” (as us fanatical fishermen see it) by itself would offset the hardships (in any rational calculation of national priorities) of the relatively few “people who owe their livelihoods to fisheries and tourism.”
But a study by LSU's sea grant college found that majority of Louisiana's offshore fishing trips (among the state’s top tourist attractions) target these structures. Recreational fishing and diving trips to these structures generate an estimated 5,560 full time jobs and $324 million annually for Louisiana.
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.