Today's Wall Street Journal contains an op-ed by Daniel Henninger and an editorial — both on the subject of the United States' energy policy. Thanks to Instapundit for pointing the articles out.
The articles serve as a reminder that, when it comes to oil exploration and energy development as they relate to the listing of the polar bear as a threatened species, environmental groups are likely to not only assert the tenuous argument that individual projects may harm the polar bear due to global warming (see here), but they will almost certainly offer scenarios that would be more observable. That is, for instance, the threat of immediate environmental damage from offshore drilling due to an accident justifies costly regulations and/or court rulings that prevent drilling from even beginning in the first place.
This fear-mongering serves no-one but the environmental groups because it ignores the benefits that come along with increased energy investment as well as the drastic improvements in drilling technology over the past several decades. Drilling technology has improved over the years such that the risk of environmental damage is much more remote than it was only twenty years ago. Yet, as Henninger puts it, "California won't drill for the estimated 1.3 billion barrels of recoverable oil off its coast because of bad memories of the Santa Barbara oil spill – in 1969."
Technology has come a long way in the past forty years–even the past decade alone has seen significant improvements. There's no exception when it comes to technology used for oil exploration.
When and if there is increased oil development on American land and seas, courts should keep the above in mind during "the inevitable lawsuit downpour from the environmental lobby" and the corresponding scare-tactics.