Friday, 7 January 2011

To drill or not to drill

Last year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has quite rightly spurred governments to give more thought to the potential implications of the push to seek oil in ever-increasingly difficult locations.  Increasing oil prices will certainly make it more attractive for companies to push at the limits in pursuit of profits.
A committee of MPs has been considering the specific question of deep sea drilling off the coast of the UK, and has come to the conclusion that there is no reason for a moratorium, largely on the grounds of ‘energy security’.  I’m unconvinced about their logic; but that isn’t necessarily the same as supporting the total ban on drilling for new oil reserves offshore which some have called for.
The question for me is a very simple one – are we serious about freeing ourselves of dependency on oil or not?  Only if we can answer an unequivocal ‘yes’ to that question can we honestly support a ban on developing new oil reserves.  To answer in the negative, and then demand a ban, is to say that we are happy to depend on oil produced elsewhere – with all the environmental costs involved – but not happy to take the environmental risks ourselves.  That’s not good world citizenship, to say the least.
Personally, I’m for an oil-free future, and I believe that it can be achieved, if we plan for it and are determined to secure it.  The Welsh Government has produced a plan for an energy future based entirely on renewable energy; with the political will, and the necessary powers, it can be achieved.
The powers are clearly not there at present – and they still won’t be there, even after a ‘yes’ vote next March.  It can be too easy to hide behind the lack of powers though; my real concern is whether the political will is there.  It’s too tempting at times for politicians facing elections to support non-renewable energy projects because they might bring economic benefits; and it’s too easy to court popularity by opposing renewable developments as well.
If we’re serious about freeing ourselves from our oil-dependent economy, we need a consistent long-term energy policy, and sometimes that will mean saying no and meaning it.  Only those prepared to do that can honestly oppose continued oil exploration.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Spot on
There is no long term policy let alone a consistent one.
Wales could embark on a major reafforestation programme say 80% coverage. This would enable us to heat our homes and export fuel.
Wales could open coal reserves an estimated 200 million tons in mothball
Wales could promote hydro schemes We have less hydro use than we did in the 11th century in almost all parts of Wales

There are loads of other ways forward.

No one has asked the people of Wales if they wants Deep drilling within our territorial borders
How about an answer to that question first