Shell Oil Company has announced the suspension of its energy exploration efforts in the Arctic Ocean off the northern coast of Alaska. The move comes after the Environmental Protection Agency denied the issuance of air permits critical to the formation of the oil drilling projects.
Shell Oil Company has invested nearly $4 billion in projects for energy exploration of northern coast of Alaska, but yet another obscure EPA finding has ended what was set to produce an abundant supply of oil through the Alaskan pipeline. The EPA fatuously declared that the drilling endeavor would potentially harm a small segment of the Alaskan population, which encompasses roughly one square mile and 245 Alaskan natives.
Shell Oil Company Vice-President Pete Slaiby says that the arbitrary decree is largely erroneous, as the potential harmful effects purported by the EPA and environmentalists have not been substantiated. “We think the issues were really not major,” Slaiby said, “and clearly not impactful for the communities we work in.”
Earthjustice, an environmental activist organization which has aided the EPA in stymying American production of offshore energy production, has a different take. “What the modeling showed was in communities like Kaktovik, Shell’s drilling would increase air pollution levels close to air quality standards,” said Eric Grafe, the lead attorney representing Earthjustice.
Like most all or nothing arguments, it attempts to preempt the debate by creating the narrative that there is potential for zero pollution. In all free prosperous societies, decisions over economic and environmental policy are based on trade-offs, where individuals would be willing to except a certain amount of innocuous pollution in order to create an abundant supply of affordable energy. Certainly, if we refuse to drill off our coast due to radical environmentalists and illogical arguments, China and other nations would be more than willing to fill the vacuum of our own negligence, with greater potential for environmental degradation.
Still, the effects of our inaction will be staggering, as the amount of potential oil located within this region is estimated to be around 27 billion barrels. Conversely, this represents two and a half times the amount of oil that has flowed through the Alaskan pipeline in all of its 30 year history of production. Currently, the pipeline pumps out 660, 000 barrels of oil a day. Shell Oil Company’s drilling, along with other energy excursions, would vastly expand the amount of energy resources in the U.S., increasing supply and gradually reducing prices.
Recently, President Obama asserted that there is no “silver bullet” to reduce rising energy prices. For now, it seems we are determined to shoot ourselves in the foot, rather than reducing our spiking energy prices.