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Because land and space are resources as finite as those resources which they contain, there is no doubt that an expansion in one industry would hinder the ability of another to operate. In the article by James Lovgren, the oil and natural gas industries are vilified for their reckless disregard for the fishing industry and its role in the nation’s – and the world’s – ability to eat. However, this raises a simple question that is tied to human nature. If one is in the business of energy, it would make sense that one would not understand the business of fishing. This alien industry is outside of the energy producers’ realms of expertise, and, for this reason, it is difficult to accuse them of “cavalierly industrializ[ing]” the New Jersey coastline (Lovgren).
James Lovgren certainly hits the nail on the head when he draws the dichotomy of “food or fuel.” By using the coastline for industrial purposes, particularly in the areas with a dense population of fish, the energy producers would drive away both a key source of food and the principal source of revenue for the fishing industry. In fact, these facilities “would require vast no-fishing areas, around both the actual unloading facility and its thirty to fifty miles of pipeline” (Lovgren). Considering that the coastline of New Jersey is about two hundred miles long, the panic felt by those aware of the size of these zones is not at all irrational.
Though oil and gas will remain a part of the world’s energy generation for a long time, modern scientific developments and increasingly impressive feats of engineering are allowing us to create energy through unique, creative and economical ways. Solar and wind are considered two of the most viable alternative energy sources for domestic electricity production (OEERE). Wind farms and solar panels are appearing all over New Jersey, most notably with the addition of wind turbines in Atlantic City (Office of the Governor). Deemed an eyesore by some, this investment in alternative energy by the city has created a more sustainable Atlantic City. Under a plan by the former governor Jon S. Corzine, wind energy production in the state of New Jersey would triple to 3,000 megawatts by 2020 (Office of the Governor). This figure represents about 13% of total estimated energy production in New Jersey.
While it is farfetched to imagine that cars will ever run on wind, automobiles are a very replaceable part of our infrastructure. Cities, buildings, highways, power plants and schools are things that tend not to go away once built, and thus must change with the times to avoid becoming outdated and decrepit. In a time of peak oil, an increase in production is no longer an equally efficacious alternative a decrease in demand. If we can roll over the burden of powering our infrastructure to alternative energy sources, then we will have minimized the role that fossil fuels play in powering something that is not as resilient and adjustable as the automotive industry, metaphorically quarantining oil in the automotive world.
It is not difficult to imagine the degree to which the fishing industry of New Jersey – and perhaps even New England – would suffer if many of these offshore drilling stations were to be built. There is no doubt that the concerns are justified, but the accusations of malice are unnecessary. The motives of the energy producers are to protect their ability to produce and provide their products, something no different than the motives of the fishing industry. Programs within the state government and national government are being put in place, tracing their origins to various interest groups, legislators and people that wish to see changes in our state’s energy production policies. In time, the forces of supply and demand, combined with education about the effects of fossil fuels, will condense the industries of oil and natural gas to the point that such drilling expenditures will not be as worthwhile as they have come to be under the constraints of third-world development.
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