Chris McGill Energy Production and the Environment: When will the debate move to the 21st century?

Recently, I was riding home to Northern Virginia on the Washington, DC Metrorail and stood across from a poster, which was obviously designed to sway public opinion away from including domestic oil and gas drilling in our national energy policy. The poster said “No, to oil and gas drilling” and included a large image of a man holding an oil covered bird in his hands. When is this going to stop?

When is the discussion of the footprint associated with oil and natural gas development, pipeline infrastructure or any energy-related facility for that matter, going to be conducted within the context of 21st century technology? Without doubt energy production in the U.S. carries with it a footprint and a history not always exemplary with respect to environmental stewardship. However, today’s petroleum industry includes multi-well development from single pads, includes zero-discharge offshore facilities, includes underwater reef building associated with production platforms and pipeline construction and an additional list of surface remediation strategies as long as your arm. Is no credit offered to the engineering and investment in these elements of our energy industry because they go largely unseen? Every source of energy today, whether it be renewable, traditional or even still in the eye of a thoughtful beholder has a footprint.

Would it be asking too much to conduct the debate on our national energy future and climate change policy on a level playing field using a refreshed, current view of energy development technology? In my view that time has come.

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