Fossil fuels are partly responsible for the industrial revolution. Products made from crude oil fueled the machines and vehicles which were necessary to manufacturing and free trade. The 21st century brings not just a glimpse into the future, it makes us aware that these products will be phased out. Solar power, wind, and geothermal are realistic sources of electricity. New battery designs are resulting in electric cars and trucks which operate efficiently and without pollution. Solar power has become a reality for businesses and homes, often producing more electrical power than needed. Oil and gas will see limited use in the future of America.
While petroleum products continue to be necessary, they must be readily available to maintain our way of life in the United States. Producing them safely is the responsibility of the Petroleum industry. Disasters such as the ‘Deepwater Horizon’ will happen again unless the industry’s first priority is the protection of human life, our oceans, and wildlife.
Fracking, the process of extracting natural gas from shale deep in the earth’s crust, has proven to be extremely dangerous to the environment, and therefore human beings. Pollution from the process itself pollutes the air. Chemicals, used to fracture the shale and release gas, pollute underground rivers and streams making the water dangerous or impossible to drink. Some states have banned the process in its entirety.
The second most dangerous operation by the petroleum industry is offshore drilling. Early Friday morning an explosion and fire left two men dead. The incident occurred on an oil rig 100 miles southeast of Oklahoma City. Both men were injured during the explosion and succumbed to their injuries shortly thereafter.
The cause of the explosion is unknown. There is no word whether or not the fire has been extinguished. As of this moment there are no reports of environmental damage. OSHA will lead the investigation to ascertain the cause of the explosion.
The lives of the men who work on offshore oil rigs is always in jeopardy. They work 12 hour shifts, and are often stationed on the rig for 14 days at a time. Besides the danger of the ocean itself, the equipment used to pump crude from the ocean’s floor is gigantic and constantly in motion. Nearly 40 explosions and fires are reported each year on the offshore rigs; some reported only injuries, but deaths are not unexpected.
In the case of Deepwater Horizon, 11 men remain unaccounted for and are presumed dead.
When petroleum company executives are asked why they engage in such a dangerous operation, their simple response is, ‘that’s where the oil is.’ Is that a good enough reason? Is the existence of extreme danger to human life and severe damage to the environment worth the effort? The answer lies in the financial reports of the oil companies themselves. Money is God; damn the hazards.
America is in love with their cars and trucks. In most cities they are a necessity; public transportation is often unavailable in many communities. As electric and hybrid vehicles become more available and more affordable, most Americans will gladly make the switch.
Past complaints about the lack of power and the ability to travel long distances no longer exist. Tesla produces a car which has a 0-60 time of 4.6 seconds. The all-electric car company has charging stations throughout the United States, and their numbers are quickly growing. The charge time is 30 minutes; and it’s free.
The future is coming more quickly than most Americans believed possible. The future of oil and gas in the United States can be easily forecast. The time will come when petroleum products will not be needed.
By James Turnage