Water Quality, Oil Spill
July 31 2012

Three Essential Truths about New Offshore Oil Drilling

by Chad Nelsen

The political discourse regarding offshore drilling continues to be heavy on rhetoric and light on facts. We challenge all elected officials to acknowledge these three essential truths when discussing any new offshore drilling proposals. We are confident that facing the facts about offshore drilling will make clear that offshore drilling is not the answer to solving our energy needs.

#1 New offshore drilling will not reduce price at the pump.

According the Department of Energy, fully developing all of our recoverable offshore oil reserves would only lower pump prices by less than 3 cents, and would take nearly twenty years to do so. Because oil prices are determined on the international market increased production in the United States has little impact on the price at the pump.

#2 New offshore drilling will not eliminate our reliance on foreign oil

The United States is the world’s largest consumer of oil. We consume almost 19 million barrels a day.  While new land-based sources are on the rise, the US Energy Information Administration predicts that opening all offshore areas in US waters would only increase domestic production from 2.2 to 2.4 million barrels a day, which is insignificant compared to our consumption. In 2011, over half of foreign oil imports came from countries in the Western Hemisphere.

#3 Offshore drilling is an inherently risky activity that causes significant impacts to the environment through every stage of the drilling process.

Beyond catastrophic oil spills such as the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, every stage of oil drilling from exploration to production to required infrastructure negatively impacts the coastal environment. The explosions used for seismic surveys to locate oil reserves harm fish and mammals. The process of drilling releases toxic drilling muds into the environment. Pipelines impact the seafloor and fragile coastal ecosystems, such as wetlands. Oil spills are constant. Each year, about 880,000 gallons of oil are sent to the ocean from U.S. drilling operations. Oil production requires massive onshore infrastructure and causes air and water pollution.

You can download a .pdf version of the Three Essential Truths here.

Click here to learn more about the Surfrider Foundation's Not the Answer campaign.



#1: http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/aeo/otheranalysis/aeo_2009analysispapers/aongr.html




#2: http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/aeo/otheranalysis/ongr.html