In the wake of the April 2010 oil well blowout off the coast of Louisiana, policymakers are rethinking off-shore drilling. Clearly, federal regulators’ neglect of safety rules needs to end. But what larger implications should we draw for domestic oil drilling? The tension has been between those who give primacy to the environment and those who give primacy to business—those who oppose oil drilling and those who support it. The energy security goal, prominent ever since September 11, 2001, is usually assumed to point in the direction of increased exploitation of domestic oil resources: “Drill, baby, drill.” But a more appropriate slogan for the policy of exploiting domestic reserves might be “Drain America first.” A true understanding of energy security could tip the balance in the direction of conserving American oil resources. Oil wells—including BP’s Deepwater Horizon site, now capped—should be saved, their future use to be made conditional on a true national emergency, such as a long-term cutoff of Persian Gulf oil resulting in a global oil price of $200 a barrel or more.
Frankel, Jeffrey A. "Real Energy Security: Drill, Baby, Drill—But Not Now." Resources for the Future, December 6, 2010.