Protect U.S Coasts from New Offshore Drilling

Active | June 01 2017

Ocean Protection

Stop new offshore drilling and related seismic exploration for oil and gas off U.S. coastlines.

Surfrider Foundation chapters across the country are advocating for legislation and agency decisions that will prohibit the exploration, development, or production of oil and gas in state and federal waters. In early 2017, the Trump administration announced plans to expand offshore oil drilling off U.S. coastlines. The Department of Interior has launched a public process to consider new lease sales in the Atlantic, Pacific, Eastern Gulf of Mexico, and Arctic Ocean as part of a revised 5-year offshore drilling program. Accordingly, Surfrider's priorities  include: 1) Preventing new offshore drilling in the 2019 - 2024 offshore drilling program; 2) Opposing federal legislation that would expand offshore drilling into new areas; 3) Opposing proposed seismic exploration for oil and gas resources; 4) Supporting state and federal moratoria on offshore oil and gas development. (Photo Credit: Angie Gustavson: Volusia-Flagler Chapter)

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For decades our coasts were protected from offshore oil drilling.  Unfortunately, circumstances changed in 2008 when President Bush lifted a White House moratorium on offshore drilling.  Congress later followed suit by allowing a federal ban on drilling to expire.  Now, decision makers at the state and federal levels are examining ways to capitalize on the lifted moratoria and erect new platforms along our coastlines. In 2016, Surfrider Foundation and our partners successfully stopped the federal government's plans for offshore drilling and related seismic blasting off the Atlantic coast (read more), but the threat continues under a new administration and congress.

The Surfrider Foundation is opposed to offshore oil drilling in new areas. Our nation’s oceans, waves and beaches are vital recreational, economic and ecological treasures that will be polluted by an expansion in offshore oil drilling. Instead of advocating for transient and environmentally harmful ways to meet America’s oil needs, we should seek a comprehensive and environmentally sustainable energy plan that includes energy conservation.

Offshore oil drilling and oil spills have the potential to critically impact pristine marine ecosystems and lead to industrialization of our coastlines. While there are numerous environmental problems associated with oil drilling, there are also negative economic impacts that we simply cannot afford during hard economic times.  This fact sheet is intended to outline potential impacts of offshore oil drilling, and also to dispel myths that have been put forth by oil drilling proponents.

Ultimately, America cannot drill our way out of an oil consumption problem. We must look toward sustainable solutions that protect our natural resources, rather than drilling for fossil fuels off our coasts.   It is in the best interest of our environment and economy to wean America off oil, and develop a sustainable “energy portfolio” that includes renewable sources and conservation.

Energy conservation is the most economical and environmental way to achieve energy independence from fossil fuels.   Riding mass transit, increasing auto efficiency, improving building insulation, and better management of electrical use in homes/businesses, are just a few ways we can reduce our oil and energy consumption. Conservation is much cheaper and healthier than investing in further development of offshore oil reserves.

It’s imperative that America shifts away from an old mindset of relying on fossil fuels. Climate change, and other environmental problems are not waiting for us to ‘rebuild our energy portfolio’. Oil drilling and continued use of fossil fuels will only exacerbate climate change, and keep us trapped in a ‘backwards frame of mind’ which overlooks sustainable energy and conservation.  The answers for sustainable energy are already in front of us—and offshore drilling is not part of the answer.

Ocean Protection

The Surfrider Foundation works to protect our ocean and address the dangers to it, today and in the future. Our Ocean Protection Initiative includes grassroots campaigns to establish and support Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), oppose new offshore oil drilling and seismic testing, participate in regional ocean planning, and ensure renewable ocean energy does not damage our ocean.

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pstauffer@surfrider.org