The benefits of petroleum are that it can strengthen the security and economy of a nation whereas its detriments are that it might damage the environment and reduce the quality of life for some citizens. The challenge is to find a balance between providing economic benefits while addressing environmental concerns.
Petroleum can deliver great benefits in terms of lower unemployment, more disposable income and greater economic growth. The industry stimulates millions of jobs and billions of dollars in economic investment and government revenues.
It can also benefit the environment by providing natural gas, its clean-burning byproduct, to power plants currently running on coal. Moreover, increased production reduces dependence on petroleum from less secure regions that operate under less stringent environmental controls, increasing national, economic and environmental security.
Its disadvantages are that with rapid growth comes a shortage of services and increased traffic congestion due to the growing number of trucks on the road. This also generates a higher level of air pollution, and petroleum development can negatively impact the quality of life and health within a community as well.
Often, fossil fuels are obtained in a manner that is not sustainable economically or for the planet. This is evidenced by fracking, which generates millions of gallons of heavily contaminated waste water. Additionally, continued reliance on petroleum slows down the transition to more efficient, cleaner, renewable forms of energy.