The Five Truths of Offshore Drilling
1. New offshore oil drilling is not worth the risk to the existing economy that relies on a clean coast
Offshore drilling threatens the continued prosperity of coastal communities and states whose economies are inextricably linked to clean, oil-free beaches and shorelines. The Trump administration’s offshore drilling proposal threatens more than 2.6 million jobs and nearly $180 billion in GDP in U.S. East and West Coast states for only two years’-worth of oil and just over one year’s-worth of gas. Oil and gas are finite resources – when the oil runs out so do the jobs. If ocean resources are protected and well managed, tourism, fishing and recreation will support local economies for generations to come. See Oceana’s Clean Coast Economy report for more information.
2. Expanding offshore drilling to new waters will not significantly decrease the price of gas
The potential oil and gas produced from expanding offshore drilling to nearly all U.S. federal waters will NOT significantly decrease the price of gas at the pump. According to government estimates, if no new areas are leased for offshore oil the reduction of potential supply would cause only a small change in prices. Any possible change in price linked to new offshore drilling would likely be over a decade away and only amount to a few cents per gallon.
If companies drill in new places, it will take 10 years or more from leasing until the oil reaches the market. First there is a lengthy process of planning for a lease sale, bidding, applying for and obtaining approvals, followed by exploration for viable well sites and production.
3. Renewable energy is a viable alternative
The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts renewable fuels will provide 18% of U.S. electricity in 2019 and almost 20% in 2020.
The U.S. is already a net exporter of natural gas and is projected to export more energy overall than it imports by 2020. As energy efficiency continues to improve and the renewable energy sector grows there is no need to threaten coastal ecosystems with more dirty and dangerous offshore drilling. A decision to expand offshore drilling today would put in motion decades of production of fossil fuels that contribute to climate change – risking human health and our clean coasts in the process. We should invest in a better future.
4. Offshore drilling is not safe for workers or the environment
Large-scale oil spills tend to capture public attention, but smaller leaks and spills regularly pollute our waters. Spills can occur at every phase of offshore development including during exploratory drilling, production and transportation. In U.S. federal waters, at least 6,500 oil spills occurred from 2007 to 2017. Technologies for cleaning up oil spills have remained largely unchanged since the Exxon Valdez spill in the late 1980s, and are generally ineffective.
The BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig blowout caused one of the worst manmade environmental catastrophes in history. This disaster killed 11 rig workers, spilled over 200 million gallons of oil, fouled at least 1,300 miles of Gulf shoreline, endangered public health, and killed tens of thousands of birds, sea turtles, dolphins and fish. This disaster revealed serious inadequacies in safety, regulation and oversight in the offshore oil drilling industry.
Natural disasters and severe weather events exacerbate the risk of oil spills. A mudslide triggered by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 sank the Taylor Energy oil platform located off the coast of Louisiana, burying numerous wells deep beneath sub-surface mud. The U.S. government has acknowledged continuous oil discharge for over a decade at the site of the platform.
Worker safety is also at risk. On average, from 2007 to 2017, a fire or explosion erupted offshore every three days, and hundreds of workers were injured annually. Meanwhile the U.S. government is dismantling safety regulations that were created to prevent another Deepwater Horizon-like disaster.
5. There is wide bipartisan opposition to new offshore drilling
Policymakers, business owners and communities up and down the Atlantic and Pacific coasts agree, expanded offshore drilling is not needed and not wanted. Over 360 East and West Coast municipalities and alliances representing thousands of businesses and fishing families have expressed concern over offshore drilling activities. There is strong bipartisan opposition from more than 2,200 local, state and federal elected officials.