A twenty-six year ban on offshore drilling in the northern coastal region of the western United States expired last October, and that has opened the door to new conversations about the prospect of offshore drilling for oil and gas. Leading those discussions and listening to what the public has to offer will be Ken Salazar, the newly appointed Interior Secretary. He’s traveling the country and holding public forums on the subject and on April 16th he will be at San Francisco’s Mission Bay Conference Center at UCSF to hear what San Franciscans have to say on the subject.
While the Bush administration had intended to impose broadly expanded offshore drilling with some last minute maneuvering in the administration’s waning days, Mr. Salazar has cast that aside in favor of taking a more studied, informed approach on the subject before making rushed decisions on the direction of such affairs. This will provide a six month information gathering period and in addition to the dialog raised across the country, the Secretary will also require reports from Interior agencies regarding both traditional energy sources, as well as sustainable sources.
Critics of the pursuit of traditional energy sources such as oil and gas suggest that the fewer than 2.5 billion barrels of oil off of the northern coast of California are too few to warrant drilling given the environmental threats and the prospect of adversely altering the beauty of one of America’s most dramatically rugged coastlines. The San Francisco Bay Area is one of America’s top tourist destination cities with a wealth of sightseeing attractions, and tourism is the city’s greatest source of funding fueling its economy. The city’s supporters don’t see any new San Francisco tours popping up to service visitors wanting to tour around a phalanx of drilling derricks five miles offshore, nor do they have any desire to update the postcards of the coastline with metal islands rising up from the Pacific.