What's the future of offshore energy development in the United States? Two visions are on view this week, in stark contrast.
In the Gulf of Mexico, oil is gushing at a rate of up to 5,000 barrels a day from an undersea well following an explosion and fire on a drilling platform. The oil is now washing ashoreon the Louisiana coast, threatening wildlife refuges, commercial fisheries and popular beaches -- including nesting beaches for the Kemp's ridley: the world's most endangered sea turtle.
BP, which owns the well, faces billions of dollars in losses -- and a significant blow to its "Beyond Petroleum" image as an emerging green energy company. Politicians are quickly rethinking support for expanded offshore oil development in U.S. waters.
Fifteen hundred miles away, the story was much different. In Massachusetts, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar gave the federal green light to the nation's largest offshore wind energy farm. The controversial project off Cape Cod could eventually generate enough electricity to power 200,000 homes and businesses in Massachusetts -- and spark similar clean-energy developments around the country (and the green jobs that come with them).