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The Three Myths Of Offshore Drilling

Myth 1: Offshore drilling is safe.

The Deepwater Horizon Drilling Disaster is not an isolated incident and offshore oil drilling is extremely dangerous. Since 2006, the United States Minerals Management Service (now the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management) reports that there have been at least 21 offshore rig blowouts, 513 fires or explosions offshore and 30 fatalities from offshore oil and gas activities in the Gulf of Mexico alone. Over the last few years, significant spills from offshore drilling have occurred in the U.S., Brazil, China, the North Sea and Australia, and many of the rigs were operated by the same multinational oil companies. The so called "safety measures" that have been put in place since the Deepwater Horizon disaster are not adequate to prevent another catastrophe, as explained in the Oceana report False Sense of Safety.

Myth 2: Offshore drilling will lower gas prices.

Additional offshore oil drilling will not lower gas prices, and it will put thousands of people’s jobs at risk. The United States Department of Energy (DOE) estimated that by 2030, if all the U.S. oceans were opened for drilling, the price of gas would only decrease 3 cents per gallon. Oil is a global commodity; therefore, additional U.S. oil supply (from additional offshore oil drilling) would have to be significant enough to alter the global price of oil in order to impact local gasoline prices. The United States simply cannot produce enough oil from the limited resources in its offshore areas to make a difference on global oil prices. Yet at the same time, an oil spill can threaten the livelihoods of thousands of fishermen as well as those in the restaurant, hotel and other industries who rely on coastal tourism.

Myth 3: Offshore drilling will make the U.S. energy independent.

The only way to become truly energy independent is to end our addiction to oil. The DOE estimates that even if we opened all offshore areas to drilling, the U.S. would still rely on imports for about 58% of its oil supply. The United States simply does not have enough domestic oil to truly reduce its dependence on imports, much less to fulfill its demand. The best way to eliminate foreign oil dependence is to eliminate dependence on oil altogether by developing alternative sources, rapidly switching to plug-in and electric vehicles and phasing out oil consumption in other portions of our economy like home heating and electricity generation. For more information on how the U.S. can phase out the need for oil, see Oceana's report Breaking the Habit.