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Offshore Oil Drilling: Myth vs. Fact

Myth: Expanding offshore drilling will drastically cut foreign oil imports.

Fact: By completely developing our oceans for oil extraction, the Department of Energy estimates that oil imports would be reduced by a mere 2.5% in 2030, at which point we will have begun exhausting our offshore potential.

Myth: Expanding offshore drilling will significantly lower gas prices.

Fact: The Department of Energy estimates that opening all of our oceans to oil drilling would have no effect on gas prices by 2020, and may result in a negligible (three-cent-per-gallon) decrease in gas prices by 2030, at which point we will have begun exhausting our offshore potential.

Myth: Expanding offshore drilling will create jobs.

Fact: Drilling for oil off the Atlantic coast would threaten hundreds of thousands of existing jobs and would not guarantee lucrative employment. Conversely, each dollar invested in clean energy can create three times as many jobs as investing in traditional fuels, and comes without the risk of a job-shredding oil spill.

Myth: Expanding offshore drilling will save state budgets.

Fact: Atlantic states are not guaranteed to see any revenue from new offshore oil drilling, as most politicians want to use the money to alleviate federal debt. Ironically, even what the federal government takes in is but a fraction of what they give away to the oil industry in subsidies each year.

Myth: Offshore drilling is environmentally safe.

Fact: The Deepwater Drilling Disaster is an extreme example of a relatively common occurrence. There have been at least eight other spills of 50,000 gallons or more since 2005. In addition, offshore drilling rigs can dump tons of oily drilling fluid, toxic metal cuttings and carcinogens into the ocean simply from normal operations.

Myth: We should develop all our energy options, including oil, gas and renewable resources.

Fact: An “all of the above” energy approach threatens our economy, environment, and national security. The United States has too few oil resources to meet our energy needs. Further investment in offshore drilling would continue our addiction to oil, subjugating consumers to wild price increases while exacerbating climate change, perpetuating the risk of catastrophic spills, and furthering our dependence on foreign oil. Additionally, offshore oil rigs require much of the same scarce equipment and expertise necessary to raise offshore wind farms, a fact which has already stymied installations of offshore wind in Europe.

Myth: Renewable energy resources cannot replace oil and gas.

Fact: Renewable energy resources are already replacing oil and gas. Currently, renewable resources generate more than 10% of the United States’ electricity and provide the equivalent of more than five billion gallons of gasoline for transportation annually.