According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the United States spent more than $200,000 per minute on foreign oil. However, trying to determine the actual costs of drilling for oil in the United States is quite difficult as there are a number of factors involved and actual numbers are rarely mentioned.
Although there is a lot of talk that the technology exists that would enable exploration for oil without much damage to the environment or the animals that live there, I have a hard time believing this. I know they have a lot of science to back up their claims, but I am not convinced they know all the right questions to ask.
Some of the hidden costs of fossil fuel energy include the cost of wars in the Middle East to retain access to them, destruction or depletion of land, environmental damage, health risks because of resource pollution, reduction in species and changes in global climate regulators.
I think the legislature should manage the natural resources with strong oversight by the public and other groups. I don’t think there’s any right answer to this question or any group that’s perfectly suited to properly care for these resources. However, the legislature, as an elected body, should be required to consider the various data brought forward regarding these resources and manage based on values of no permanent damage.
Destruction of land and entire ecosystems involved in exploratory drilling
Air, water and soil pollution involved in entire process
Construction of drilling stations including
the burning of fossil fuels to extract and produce steel for construction of platforms and machines
the use of machines to construct the platforms
Burning fossil fuel to collect and transport crude oil
Consumption of resources and land for the refinement of crude oil
Burning fossil fuel to transport refined gasoline
Burning of gasoline in pickup
The potential risk of long-term environmental damage is enough of a reason to not explore the potential benefits of drilling for oil in the arctic because of the very rare quality of this region. It is the only place in the world where all of the conditions are just right for a number of unique animals to survive. It is also not clear just how this environment contributes to the overall health of the planet.
It is a good decision to use tertiary water for irrigation in many cases, but perhaps not all. Although this kind of water has gone through some levels of filtering, it can often have a lot of salts in it as well as other chemicals (chloride, sodium, bicarbonate, boron and fluoride). This means it may not be right to use on some agricultural crops or delicate ornamental plants.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge should not be open to exploration for oil as an interim solution to our need to decrease our dependence on foreign oil. Whatever small benefits we might achieve from this exploration in 30 years when we should have been concentrating on developing new, less harmful technologies will not be able to offset the long-term, likely permanent damage inflicted on the environment.
It is possible, I think individual households should be subject to stormwater discharge requirements, but I don’t see how this would be possible to monitor or to manage in terms of fines. Storm water runoff can come from a number of sources and it would be impossible to determine which neighbor or visitor dumped all their oil in the sewer or if this was intentional or an accident.
I believe many of the endangered large species today will cease to exist in the future as populations dwindle below the requirements of a viable gene pool and the environments in which these animals live are extinguished in the name of progress.