Before I begin my tirade against our President, I would like to start by saying that I think he has done a magnificent job given the challenges he has been faced with, and also how much I admire what he has accomplished for our country while in office. I believe his creation of the Affordable Care Act, his pushes for immigration reform and his support of the LGBTQ community have greatly impacted the lives of our citizens in a positive manner.
Now we come to another topic in which I have greatly support Obama’s efforts – until now. Obama has been a long time supporter of clean and sustainable energy, and he has fought hard against the steady advance of global warming. He has done many things to help build a greener future, such as the Clean Power Plan, which will help drastically reduce carbon emissions – by 30% by 2030 to be exact (whitehouse.gov). He has also done a great job in fighting against the tyrannical non-believers of climate change (aka those with stakes in the oil and fossil fuel industries).
He very recently made a bold move by vetoing a bill that approved the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a huge pipeline that would potentially run from Canada through the United States. While Keystone had the potential to create many jobs, it would further enhance our dependency on crude oils and lead to the worsening of our climate (not to mention the thousands of people who would be displaced due to the path of the pipeline). However, Obama stood up for what he believed to be right, and stopped the construction. Bravo, Obama.
Unfortunately, Obama’s more recent actions have been slightly less commendable. In a recent turn of events, Obama has decided to give the Royal Dutch Shell company the green light to begin drilling in the previously “untapped” Arctic. This area has been under heavy controversy and debate for many years; with Shell strongly lobbying to allow drilling in the Arctic, and the environmentally conscious organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund fighting to save this delicate and untouched ecosystem. Already, Shell has spent over 6 billion dollars campaigning our government to declare open season on the Arctic (thinkprogress.org). And finally, after 6 years of struggling, Obama has given in to Shell’s, lets say, “persuasion.” Now, what makes this such a low blow to the Prius driving, tree hugging people like me, is that this is the President who no less than one month ago stated: “Climate change can no longer be denied… and action can no longer be delayed (www.washingtonpost.com).” If said action includes drilling into the area that holds an estimated 20% of the worlds undiscovered oil reserves and increasing our nations dependency on oil, that I for one, would love a different course of action.
But hey, it’s only fair to give Obama a chance to defend his seemingly atrocious decision. Maybe it’s all an elaborate scheme to defeat Shell and crude oil once and for all. Well, you can all stop holding your breath – it’s not. To find our answer to this question, we head to the fabled twitter-sphere. Obama recently caught on to what all the cool Presidents are doing these days, and got himself a Twitter. Soon after his entrance to Twitter, he decided to field some questions from users about climate change during National Health Week. Of course, many came flooding in, calling him out on his decision to open up the Arctic to Shell. His response? Terribly depressing. “But since we can’t prevent oil exploration completely in region we’re setting the highest possible standards.” Basically, what it sounds like he’s trying to say is that we simply cannot stop the expansion of oil drilling, so we might as well give in to the whims of big oil. Granted, he has limited Shell in where they can drill, and as of right now they only have access to the Chukchi Sea (a measly 230,000 square mile area). However, despite this, Obama’s reasoning still doesn’t sit well with me. It seems like such a cop-out of an answer – we could apply his logic to many different aspects of our country, none of which would be met with promising results. ISIS? They can keep expanding their militant state, just so long as they don’t take over too many countries, and as long as they keep there executions to a minimum. Of course, this is an extreme analogy, but I would love to see Obama stick to his guns and act upon what he says in regards to our changing climate. Shame on you, Obama.
Now, lets quickly dig a little deeper into why drilling in the Arctic is such a terrible idea. The remote area and freezing temperature of the Arctic makes drilling there a much more delicate procedure than if you were drilling elsewhere. For starters, if there is an oil spill in the Arctic (which it is fairly safe to assume that there will be), it would take large amounts of time to get a full damage-control crew to the area of the spill in a timely fashion. Also, there are no current effective methods to clean and contain a oil spill that occurs in icy waters, and, unfortunately, icy waters are the only waters to be found in the Chukchi Sea. A spill could also wreak havoc on many species of animals that call the Arctic their home. And, if fish are poisoned or killed by an oil spill, there would be a chain reaction that would harm not only the indigenous people of that area, but also people across our nation and the world that eat fish caught in the Arctic. And, even if by some miraculous stroke of luck and there are no oil spills, the Seismic noises that accompany drilling would deafen the marine life in the arctic, causing injury and possibly even death to these animals (wwf.panda.org).
Obama has made great progress in the fight for a cleaner climate and a better future for the generations to come. However, if he isn’t consistent in his actions, he might have some explaining to do to Malia and Natasha in his later years about his role in the destruction of the Arctic and the worsening of our climate.
If you want to read more on what effects the drilling would have on the Arctic, click here: http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/where_we_work/arctic/what_we_do/oil_gas/
And if you wish to watch Obama talk about how dangerous climate change is and how important it is we act upon it, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9A0w_lemK0