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Surfrider: Why expanded offshore oil drilling is a bad idea



Environment Updates

Proposed oil drilling expansion threatens U.S. coasts, millions of jobs, and billions in GDP

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 5 January, 2018 - Today, the Trump administration announced a proposal to expand offshore oil drilling in U.S. waters, threatening ocean recreation, tourism and fishing industries, which provide more than $114 billion in GDP and 2.28 million jobs nationwide.

The Draft Proposed Five-Year OCS Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Plan released by the Interior Department includes planned drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, and Arctic Ocean. This extreme proposal opens over 90% of the Outer Continental Shelf to new drilling and puts our nation’s coastal communities, beaches, surf breaks, and marine ecosystems at risk of a catastrophic oil spill.

“Our ocean, waves and beaches are vital recreational, economic and ecological treasures to our coastal communities that will be polluted by new offshore oil drilling, regardless of whether or not there is a spill,” said Dr. Chad Nelsen, CEO of the Surfrider Foundation. “Without a massive mobilization by coastal communities around the country in opposition to new offshore drilling, our voice will be drowned out by the lobbying power of Big Oil in Washington, D.C.”

New offshore drilling would threaten thousands of miles of coastline and billions in GDP, for a relatively small amount of oil. Ocean tourism and recreation provide 12 times the amount of jobs to the U.S. economy, compared to offshore oil production. Even under the best-case scenario, America’s offshore oil reserves would provide only about 920 days, or 18 months supply of oil at our current rate of consumption, according to federal agency estimates.

“With this proposal, the threat of another oil disaster is imminent,” said Holly Parker, Florida Regional Manager for the Surfrider Foundation. “In 2010, nearly five million barrels of toxic oil spewed from the state-of-the-art drilling rig, Deepwater Horizon, over the course of 87 days. Our coastal communities lost their way of life, and the economic results were devastating. Tourism plummeted along the Gulf Coast, resulting in the estimated loss of billions in decreased visitor spending, millions in lost sales taxes, and thousands of lost jobs. Floridians will fight to protect their beaches, their livelihood, and their quality of life from dirty, dangerous offshore drilling.”

Even when there is not a spill and everything goes ‘right,’ the process of oil drilling releases thousands of gallons of polluted water into the ocean, called drilling muds. These muds are generally unregulated and contain toxins such as benzene, zinc, arsenic, radioactive materials and other contaminants. High concentrations of metals have been found around drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, and a study by the Pew Charitable Trust concluded that a single oil well discharges up to 1,500-2,000 tons of waste material.

“We will not stand for another BP oil spill, Exxon Valdez spill or other unnecessary disaster that threatens our coastal communities, recreation and tourism industries, and way of life,” said Pete Stauffer, Environmental Director for the Surfrider Foundation. “We will continue to work together with the many businesses, communities, and elected officials that have already demonstrated opposition against the expansion of wasteful and destructive new oil drilling to fight for the protection of our ocean, coasts and communities for the future.”


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