Potential offshore drilling locations include the ocean waters off the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. These waters provide critical habitat during the lifecycle of many of our Bay species, putting them and the economy that relies on them at risk.
What Is Offshore Drilling?
Offshore drilling uses huge fixed or floating platforms to extract oil and natural gas reserves from beneath the ocean.
Offshore Drilling Is Bad for the Environment. Here’s Why.
For four decades , the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has taken a stand against any expansion of the oil and gas industry in the Bay watershed, including offshore drilling. The dangers posed by offshore drilling are unacceptable and include:
- Oil Spills: On average, spills from platforms, pipelines, tankers, and coastal facilities release 157,000 barrels of oil every year. This poses an unjustifiable risk to the Bay, our coasts, and the economy.
- Toxic Pollution: Normal offshore drilling operations release toxic pollution into the air and water. Exploration and drilling at the platform, transportation via tankers, and refining the oil on land can all release volatile organic compounds, greenhouse gases, and other air pollutants.
- A Risk to Animals: Wherever there are oil spills and excess pollutants, wildlife is risk. Here in the Bay watershed, even a small oil spill could devastate the blue crab population by killing its larvae. It would also poison and debilitate oysters, fish, seabirds, marine mammals, and other wildlife.
- A Risk to Nature: A major spill could devastate wetlands, beaches, and mudflats.
Offshore drilling also has a direct impact on climate change—a threat we simply cannot afford to ignore—by increasing our reliance on fossil fuels. This is a time when we should be turning towards renewable energy alternatives, energy efficiencies, and conservation and not perpetuating our dependence on oil and gas. This problem will only get worse for the Chesapeake Bay and all those who live in the region:
- Heavier rainfall and more intense storms, due in part to climate change, lead to more polluted runoff, threatening the progress made so far in reducing pollution to the Bay.
- Warmer waters hold less dissolved oxygen, exacerbating fish-killing dead zones and contributing to algal blooms.
- Temperature changes affect key species like eelgrass and striped bass, impacting not only the species themselves but the commercial fisheries that are integral to the region’s economy.
- Sea level rise is already threatening communities around the Bay, from Annapolis to Hampton Roads to the Eastern Shore to Tangier Island.
The Bay is on a path toward recovery as a result of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. Now is not the time to gamble our renewable aquatic resources. It's far more prudent to meet our energy needs by pursuing energy efficiency and conservation now, and developing wind, solar, and other renewable sources for the future.
Offshore drilling is not worth the risk to the Chesapeake Bay. We must protect our national treasure.
How Offshore Drilling Threatens Our Local Economy
Coastal communities across the region rely on clean water and safe waterways for food, industry, recreation, and more. But offshore drilling threatens the people who live in these areas and the industries they depend on for their livelihood.
- Industries at Risk: When offshore drilling is introduced into a region, it jeopardizes commercial fishing, recreation, and tourist economies. This directly affects people’s lives and the ability to care for their families. The jobs brought in by oil companies will not replace the jobs lost by the effects of offshore drilling. The impact will be felt for generations.
- Opportunities Lost: By investing imprudently in dangerous fossil fuels, we are missing the opportunity to invest in building an industry around renewables like wind and solar to create sustainable power and sustainable jobs.
- Military Concerns: The United States military is a major employer and economic engine for both Maryland and Virginia. Oil production off the Atlantic coast has raised concerns from the Department of Defense because of potential conflicts with military operations.
Here’s what the economic impact looks like right here in the watershed region.
- For Virginia, offshore drilling would put 86,000 jobs and $4.8 billion in GDP from coastal tourism and fishing at risk, according to the environmental and conservation group Oceana.
- For Maryland, 96,000 jobs and $6 billion would be in danger.
How YOU Can Help Stop Offshore Drilling
Offshore drilling poses unacceptable risks to communities throughout the watershed, our economies, marine life, and our environment.
You can help defend our coasts by taking action against offshore drilling today. Here’s how:
- Call Congress and tell your Representative and Senators to stand up for our Bay.
- Call your Governor and tell them why protecting the Bay from offshore drilling matters to you.