March 15, 2018
CEO Note: President Trump’s plan for offshore drilling threatens our nation’s vibrant coastal economies
BY: Andy Sharpless
President Trump and Secretary Zinke are pushing the sale of offshore drilling leases in nearly all U.S. waters, including the Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic and eastern Gulf of Mexico. This plan, contrary to the claims of its proponents, is economically problematic. These new leases would expose the nation’s coastal economies to the risks of offshore oil, threatening more than 2.6 million jobs and nearly $180 billion in GDP in pursuit of only two years’-worth of oil and just over one year’s-worth of gas at current consumption rates.
These numbers come from a new report released by Oceana, which analyzed government data to assess the economic impact of healthy oceans. In the U.S., the health of our oceans is closely intertwined with coastal state economies and communities. Fishing, tourism and recreation industries, which generate millions of jobs, rely on clean, healthy oceans. And these are real, not theoretical, jobs; when the ocean is sustainably managed, they can keep providing for those who hold them in perpetuity.
It’s been almost eight years since the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster killed 11 people and pumped over 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico’s waters. The impacts on marine wildlife included higher mortality rates for bottlenose dolphins, increased heart failure in juvenile bluefin and yellowfin tunas and the deaths of endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles. But the Deepwater Horizon also had negative economic consequences. According to a 2016 Oceana report, the Deepwater Horizon disaster will cost the U.S. economy an estimated $8.7 billion by 2020, including the loss of more than 22,000 jobs, based on impacts to fisheries productivity alone.
The upside to the proposed oil and gas development is limited. All the new lease sales in the Atlantic, Pacific and Eastern Gulf would provide relatively small amounts of oil and gas. And when the oil and gas run out, whatever jobs and revenue the fossil fuels generated will disappear. In contrast, the tourism, fishing and recreation jobs have already existed for decades. These jobs can continue to be the bulwark of coastal economies for decades more if the oceans they depend on are protected.
Because of these issues, coastal communities, states, businesses and citizens are strongly opposing President Trump’s plan. As of today, the bipartisan chorus of opposition and concern over offshore drilling activities includes:
• The governors of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, California, Oregon and Washington,
• More than 200 East and West Coast municipalities that have passed resolutions against offshore drilling,
• Over 1,200 local, state and federal officials from both parties who have publicly opposed offshore drilling,
• Alliances representing more than 42,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families from both coasts that are opposed to new or expanded offshore drilling,
• North Pacific, New England, South and Mid-Atlantic fishery management councils,
• Commercial and recreational fishing interests such as Southeastern Fisheries Association, Snook and Gamefish Foundation, Fisheries Survival Fund, Southern Shrimp Alliance, Billfish Foundation, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Institute for Fisheries Resources and International Game Fish Association,
• California Coastal Commission, California Fish and Game Commission and California State Lands Commission, and
• Department of Defense, NASA, U.S. Air Force and Florida Defense Support Task Force.
In addition, Oceana has activated our grassroots supporters and delivered more than 40,000 signatures to President Trump and Secretary Zinke in opposition to this new plan. In the weeks ahead, we will continue to fight against new lease sales in the Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific oceans, as well as the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. You can support our efforts on social media by using the hashtag #ProtectOurCoast and help us protect our oceans from the risks of offshore drilling.