Views expressed in opinion columns are the author's own.
The Trump administration's plan to open most of the United States' coastal waters to offshore drilling is immensely harmful. Drilling off Maryland's coast could severely damage this state's environment and economy. Gov. Larry Hogan's opposition to the plan is necessary to protect our coast.
However, the administration's plan could have far broader consequences. Advocates for increased drilling argue that it ensures America will meet growing energy needs. But building our future on fossil fuels is foolish at best. The plan increases our dependence on finite sources of energy. The Trump administration has chosen to jeopardize America's energy future by caving to the fossil fuel industry.
Much of the opposition to the administration's plan centers on its endangerment of coastal environments and economies. Fifteen governors of coastal states publicly oppose the plan. Their distrust is justified. Offshore drilling has a long record of environmental damage. The 2010 BP oil spill, for example, released 134 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The disaster killed thousands of animals in and near the water, and severely damaged their habitats. The spill also disrupted the fishing and tourism industries, which are vital to coastal economies.
Nearly eight years later, the legacy of the BP oil spill continues to color America's coastline. Even if the plan doesn't lead to a disaster of that magnitude, the environment could suffer. Routine practices can severely impact wildlife. ExxonMobil's 2008 use of sonar during a survey was linked to the mass stranding of about 100 whales.
The negative impacts of offshore drilling are indisputable. The question for the Trump administration is whether the new policy brings more good than harm. Since the costs are immense, the benefits must be similarly immense. If the policy would allow us to tap into an indefinite supply of energy, maybe it can be justified.
But nonrenewable energy is, by definition, finite. While America's offshore oil reserves may last for decades — likely long past the lifetimes of the politicians making these decisions — they must eventually run out. They may even become practically unusable before then due to climate change.
In the long term, the administration's plan will not help America become energy independent. Rather, it will handicap us. America must invest in renewable and nuclear energy to ensure a secure and energy-independent future. The Trump administration has offered only a commitment to the unsustainable status quo.
The Trump administration's plan puts the economies and environments of coastal states in danger while jeopardizing America's future. The policy is a blatant example of the president's willingness to hurt ordinary Americans if it will further corporate interests. Granting oil companies nearly unrestricted access to our coasts is foolish and destructive. Maryland must continue to fight this plan alongside all other coastal states and anyone who believes America should strive for a sustainable future.
Nate Rogers is a freshman physics major. He can be reached at email@example.com.