Six Months of Oil Not Worth Risking Southern Beaches and Fisheries
Today’s announcement by President Obama opening much of the U.S. East Coast for the first time to oil and gas drilling risks too much for the South, according to the Southern Environmental Law Center. The Southern Environmental Law Center urges protection of the Atlantic coast and beaches of the South and pursuit of energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy sources rather than drilling for the small amount of oil offshore.
“Opening the South Atlantic Coast to oil and gas drilling will do nothing to address climate change, provide only about six months worth of oil, and put at risk multi-billion dollar tourism and fisheries industries. One oil spill could devastate a coast,” said Derb Carter, director, Carolinas Office of the Southern Environmental Law Center. “Instead, reducing our dependence on such old, polluting energy sources by bringing America’s innovative talent to bear on fully exploiting energy efficiency and clean renewable energy sources should be the first step in an energy policy that generates jobs and keeps America technologically competitive.”
Drilling for oil would risk Southern tourism, rare wildlife, and fisheries for what the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Minerals Management Service estimates would be only enough oil for six months that would take seven to ten years to bring online. But it would have no impact on domestic oil and gas prices until at least 2030, and even then any such impact would be “insignificant,” according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Each year, thousands of people enjoy the natural beauty and white sandy beaches of the Southeastern coastline with an economic impact of over $63 billion and over half a million jobs in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Rare and iconic wildlife—including migratory birds, endangered sea turtles and the rarest of whales also enjoy the same coastal areas. Commercial fisheries bring in over a quarter of a billion dollars each year and are crucial to local economies and traditional ways of life in the region.
Investing in clean energy could result in about 170,000 jobs for Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia according to estimates from a recent study by the Center for American Progress.