Illustration by Katja Liebing
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News of President Obama’s expected reversal of his previous decision to allow drilling off the southeast Atlantic coast angered coastal communities from Virginia to Georgia, according to the New York Times, but the change comes at a time when addressing climate couldn’t be more important.

Offshore drilling poses far too many threats to the environment for the U.S. to allow the industry to expand. The consequences of another oil spill is too dire and continuing to rely on fossil fuels only contributes to climate change.

The National Wildlife Federation reported that over 8,000 birds, sea turtles, and sea mammals were found injured or dead in the six months following the BP oil spill. Scientists will have to monitor fluctuations in wildlife population for the foreseeable future as it wasn’t until four years after the Exxon Valdez oil disaster that the surrounding herring population collapsed.   

Allowing for more offshore drilling will increase dependence on fossil fuels and contribute to more greenhouse gasses being released into the environment.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 65 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions is carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels.  

Instead the U.S. needs to embrace more renewable and environmentally friendly sources of energy. The need for the U.S. government to subsidize  solar, wind, and hydroelectric technologies is imperative or the grip that fossil fuels have on the energy industry will suffocate the planet.

The decision would be in accordance with the tone set at the United Nations climate conference in Paris last year as Obama seeks to solidify his legacy as America’s first environmentalist President while simultaneously nurturing a recovering oil industry in a fragile economy.

Despite criticism, under President Obama oil production in the United States has risen 82 percent in the last seven years, according to Bloomberg Business.
The world is nearing the end of the fossil fuel era and offshore drilling will soon be an outdated practice. American and world leaders must continue to pursue alternative clean energy sources while responsibly weaning the energy industry from technologies that are quickly becoming obsolete.

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