A giant oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, CA in 1969 is often credited with heralding the modern environmental movement, although it actually had its roots earlier that decade. In 1964, the publication of A Silent Spring by Rachel Carson shocked the public by exposing myriad industrial and agricultural pollutants leeching into the air, groundwater, other waters and soil.
The combined two events made the oil industry one of the earliest targets of pollution control and environmental remediation efforts – granted, at first reluctantly, but anymore, quite enthusiastically. That’s no joke. The oil and gas industry attracts a surprising number of “greenies.”
from college environmental sciences and other programs. The U.S. industry also is considered a pacesetter worldwide for developing top pollution control technologies. There is tremendous competition between oil and gas companies to develop not only the best and most efficient new oilfield technologies, but the cleanest and greenest, as well. Too, a high percentage of oilfield workers are dedicated outdoorsmen and women, who enjoy camping, fishing, hunting and other activities in the great outdoors. In short, nobody wants to mess up their own playgrounds, and oilfield workers often live in the general regions where they work. Because offshore drilling is the newer sector of the industry, many new or better technologies had to be developed to enhance blowout and other oil spill prevention needs. Here are some startling statistics on the U.S. offshore drilling industry’s success in this endeavor:
Naturally accidents do happen, and the onshore and offshore industries also are under expanded regulation to control rig-related, processing and spur pipeline releases of emissions (primarily NOx, or nitrogen oxides, sulfur and carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA,) of course, has primary purview over air, groundwater, soil, wetlands and oil spill contamination from both onshore and offshore drilling; EPA’s easy-to-navigate home page at http://www.epa.gov/ is a good place to get started (for more information than most people could read in a lifetime.) Other agencies will roles in environmental protection for the drilling industry include the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (http://www.boemre.gov/) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (http://www.noaa.gov/.) The U.S. Coast Guard, while primarily concerned with rig-related navigation, anchoring and related procedures, also serves are a regular monitoring agency for environmentally safe practices on and around rigs. (http://www.uscg.mil/)