In all the fearmongering over offshore oil drilling, the public, and even most of our politicians, are not getting all the information.
First off, according to state records dating back to 1901, Grays Harbor County has significant deposits of natural gas and oil, much of it under high pressure, and much of it fairly shallow. But all the offshore data is old and our politicians want to stay ignorant as to what we truly have, thus they are preventing “exploratory” drilling.
Exploratory drilling is an activity that would provide numerous high-paying support jobs in the county with no environmental risk.
Second, a study shows oil and gas extraction significantly reduces natural oil and gas seepage in areas where well extraction occurs. “Natural seepage of hydrocarbons from the ocean floor in the northern Santa Barbara Channel has been significantly reduced by oil production,” according to two recently published peer-reviewed articles, one in November’s Geology Magazine, the other in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans.
The researchers state that the production rate of these naturally occurring reactive organic gases is equal to twice the emission rate from all the on-road vehicle traffic in Santa Barbara County in 1990.
A report from a surfer association indicates that when an offshore platform was shut down, the water quality deteriorated as seepage increased. Here’s the takeaway, our water is already contaminated from natural gas and oil seepage, and extracting the fossil fuels reduces the pressure and lowers the pollution.
But here’s the kicker. In a megaquake scenario, the very offshore oil and gas fields the environmentalists want to keep untouched, will “burp” massive quantities of oil and global warming gases into the water and air … that is unless we can depressurize the deposits.
The combined anti-fossil fuel activism by California, Oregon and Washington will continue to send natural seepage pollution to Grays Harbor. This is because the winter-season Davidson Current pushes northward along the U.S. Pacific Coast. If environmental activists really wanted cleaner water, they would consider policies that would help reduce the pressure of fossil fuel fields.
If fighting global warming is high on your priorities, consider that natural gas is 28 times more powerful as a global warming gas than CO2. As natural gas seeps into the oceans and then the air it is significantly more “damaging” than if that gas had been extracted and used as fuel, burned to the less effective CO2. If extracting gas and oil before it seeps out, and creating Grays Harbor jobs and significant tax revenue from the activity occurs, all the better. Extraction may, in fact, benefit the environment most of all.
Ignorance is not bliss, and officials should not be embracing political decisions that don’t reflect scientific or economic realities. State government is sacrificing Grays Harbor’s economic future for a political agenda that ironically may do more environmental harm than good.