Illustration by Wade Mickley

As long as modern safety measures are maintained with close monitoring, oil drilling can safely be done just about anywhere. It’s cheaper and more efficient to get our oil from close to home instead of bringing half in from the other side of the planet. Our money also stays out of the Middle East. I don’t like big oil companies, but I would rather see our money going to them instead of OPEC. Our economy will get better benefits, keeping all the jobs here.

—Bryan Robertson, Kilmarnock, Va.

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How is anyone going to get to their trail runs without their cars? It’s too far for me to bike from where I live in Virginia to the Babcock Trail Half Marathon in West Virginia, for example. If gas prices continue to increase, I’m betting less people will be traveling to races, including myself. Let’s take advantage of our natural resources within our territories until technology catches up with environmental requirements.

—Lewis “Lefty” Leftwich, Salem, Va.

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If we could guarantee that the oil would be used here, then I would be all for it—if for nothing else, to not be held hostage by foreign governments. But will the oil be used here or sold to the highest bidder? What good would it do to drill and then sell the oil to China? Drilling is not my first choice, but I do not see the U.S. seriously moving in other directions.

—Caesar Wyssbrod III,
Greensboro, N.C.

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I think that oil companies should be allowed to drill anywhere that exploration indicates oil might be present. In this country, we have moved beyond the nicety of having available energy and nice views. These two approaches are no longer as compatible as they once were.

—Norman Bednarcyk, Charlottesville, Va.

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Give the oil companies a small time frame to get oil from the location and institute an investment plan from those companies in alternative energy if they want rights to drill in those locations. This way we can ease our dependence on foreign oil and get large oil companies to invest in alternative energies.

—Aaron Upp, Potomac Falls, Va.

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It will take somewhere between eight to 12 years to research where they need to drill, then build the oil wells and start pumping oil. Furthermore, it is estimated that offshore drilling will only supply two percent of the U.S. oil demand. Offshore drilling is not the answer—alternative energy, conservation, and lifestyle changes are more sensible solutions.

—Jon Livengood, Knoxville, Tenn.

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Having spent time frequenting both the drilling-plagued Texas beaches near Corpus Christi and drilling-free coasts of the Southeast, I can say that I prefer the tar-free nature of the Southeast’s beaches. Having to scrub your body and scrap your clothing from being covered in tar at the end of the day is a good way to keep me off the beach. The loss of pristine beaches can never be replaced in value by any number of years of extra gasoline. The Southeast beaches would lose me as a source of tourism revenue when the tar balls float in.

—Reed Leonard, Dacula, Ga.

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The U.S. needs to start thinking about energy from different sources—wind, solar, fuel cells (not nuclear)—instead of relying on 100-year-old technology (fossil fuels). If we take half of what we give to the oil industry and give it to other energy development, we would see dramatic changes.

—Michel Valin, Marietta, Ga.

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Realistically, it would take ten years to begin extracting oil from the Outer Continental Shelf. Imagine the renewable energy infrastructure we could have in place in 10 years—from parabolic solar plants in the Southwest to wind farms along our coasts. We could develop electric cars (which we already know work) and the recharging stations used to keep them going. We could break our dependence on this non-renewable, polluting resource and invest our energies and our economy in safe, renewable, and eco-friendly solutions.

—Erin Coe, Midlothian, Va.

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Alternative fuels should be where any money goes. Do not hurt any more natural habitats and animals. The price of fuel will stay high whether we drill or not, so we need to invest in alternatives. Our nation has been run by the oil companies and their subsidiaries for far too long.

—Kristen Keller, Charlottesville, Va.

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Fossil fuels are weighing too heavily on our environment, and they cannot sustain the whole planet’s need for fuel. Why waste the resources on securing a finite amount of fuel which will result in more ecological damage, when we know that global demand will not ease the cost of fossil fuels? If we allow offshore drilling, we are only allowing oil companies to make outrageous profits while prolonging our global problem.

—Nathan Ruff, Richmond, Va.