Experts: Offshore drilling not 'all-or-nothing' idea

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Offshore drilling is sparking a huge debate, with each side arguing strongly for or against it.  But, some analysts see it as anything but an 'all-or-nothing' consideration.

Critics argue renewed offshore drilling could take more than a decade before the oil starts flowing and even then not take a big bite out of gas prices.  But others contend the more we produce, the less we must rely on foreign countries, some unfriendly to the U.S.

Robert Stroud sits on the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association Board of Directors.  He told us regarding offshore drilling, "having it in our backyard would be very good, you know.  That also is a security issue of having our own oil producing, would make a big difference."

While the experts may debate the merits 'pro and con' to offshore drilling, we wanted to find out what folks on the streets of the Ark-La-Tex had in mind, whether they support it or not.  What we found was universal agreement that we've got to do something.

Shreveport driver Ammorette Winborne told us, "I just want gas prices to go down.  If it's going to help then I'm all for it."  As for the argument that it'll take years before oil starts flowing from new offshore rigs, Winborne continued, "no matter how long it takes I think that it should be started into action."

President Bush contends that expanded offshore drilling would signal that more U.S. oil production will be on the way.  Jack Holman, a Centerpoint Energy employee believes, "we're sending a message to OPEC and all the foreign oil.  We're saying, 'hey, we're not going to put up with this.  We're going for our own resources.'"

Others also insist drilling alone is not the answer.  Fellow Centerpoint Energy employee Tom Sakre agreed.  "Drilling is one option but they also need to research the solar and wind power, more nuclear and all that."

Hurricane Katrina also proved environmental risks are far lower with offshore rigs these days.  Robert Stroud added, "the last major oil spill we had in the United States offshore was in 1969, Santa Barbara, as far as a production facility."

On Monday, George W. Bush lifted a presidential ban on offshore drilling that his own father put in place 18-years ago.  Now, Congress would have to lift its federal moratorium from 27-years ago.