Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Department of Natural Resources sold about 300 acres of land from Yellowwood State Forest to Hamilton Logging Inc. in November 2017. The trees on this land, roughly 1,730, were sold for timber. This action was made after protests by environmental groups, Brown County residents and parts of the Indiana Forest Alliance.
Sadly, this disregard for the environment has become a national problem. On Jan. 4, 2017, President Trump reversed a ban on offshore oil and gas drilling. This proposal applies to the majority of the United States’ coastal waters and also includes the water off the coast of California and in the Arctic. This plan goes against what the majority of coastal states want and could have a huge impact on the environment.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said the proposal was meant to increase the U.S’s oil production to “create a new path for energy dominance in America.” This statement makes it seem as though the U.S. is behind the majority of the world in oil production. However, according to Reuters, the U.S. is soon expected to produce 10 million barrels of oil per day. The U.S. ranks third in the world in oil production.
This move has been praised by oil executives and lobbyists. Thomas J. Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, said that because coastal land is taxpayer-owned, it should be open to drilling.
However, Pyle is the one of the few people to praise this action. Governors from many coastal states on the Pacific and Atlantic seaboard have criticized the changes in the offshore drilling proposals. Republican Gov. Rick Scott of Florida said he wanted to remove the coastal water off of Florida from this plan.
The governors’ concern is valid. Offshore drilling can have a huge impact on the environment. In 2010, Deepwater Horizon, an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, exploded. This caused the deaths of 11 workers and spilled 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Oil was found in all of the states that bordered the Gulf.
Five years later, there were still tar bars on the beaches along the Louisiana Coast, dolphins were continuing to die, and there was oil on the ocean floor. Cynthia Sarthou, executive director of Gulf Restoration Network, said, “The potential impact of it (the oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill) may plague us for decades.”
The disregard that local and national politicians are showing for our environment is appalling. While land like Yellowwood State Forest and the coastal areas affected by the lifting of the ban may be taxpayer-owned, it should be protected so that future generations can appreciate the beauty that we have been able to enjoy.
Drilling in coastal areas may produce more oil, just as deforesting parts of Yellowwood will produce more timber. However, the cost of these actions is far greater than any revenue they could produce.