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Maryland League of Conservation Voters Message On New Ocean Drilling

October 6, 2022

What is offshore drilling? The U.S. Energy Information Administration define oil and natural gas drilling rigs as platforms operating in deep water two miles out from shore. Oil and gas produced from offshore drilling rigs are much more expensive to produce than land-based production. Wells are drilled from floating platforms or elevated platforms supported by stilts secured through the ocean floor. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, "The floating platforms are used for drilling in deeper waters, including water depths of 10,000 feet or greater. These self-propelled vessels are attached to the ocean floor by large cables and anchors. After wells have been drilled from these platforms, production equipment is lowered to the ocean floor."

Offshore oil and natural gas producers are required to take precautions to prevent pollution, spills, and significant changes to the ocean environment. Offshore rigs are designed to withstand hurricanes. When offshore oil and natural gas wells are no longer productive enough to be economical, they are sealed and abandoned according to applicable regulations.

Nearly all offshore oil and natural gas leasing and development activity currently occurs in the central and western Gulf of Mexico, where thousands of platforms operate in waters up to 6,000 feet deep. A few platforms operate in depths of 10,000 feet or more. In 2021, offshore oil and natural gas production in the Federal Gulf of Mexico accounted for about 15% of total U.S. crude oil production and about 2% of total U.S. dry natural gas production.

Oil and gas drilling is an enormous risk to public health and a major contributor to climate change. And with the Department of the Interior’s comment period now open for its draft offshore drilling plan, we have a chance to stop dangerous new offshore drilling projects from moving forward. This decision will impact the health, well-being, and livelihood of thousands.

The Maryland League of Conservation Voters work on critical areas of concern such as climate change, clean water & the Chesapeake Bay, and work to advance environmental policies at the state and local levels. The organization has taken up the task of getting this important message out to citizens, ACT NOW: SAY NO TO NEW OCEAN DRILLING LEASES.

Information received from Marisa Olszewski, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters Environmental Policy Manager, has the following message:

The fossil fuel industry is clamoring to start drilling in the ten new sites in the Gulf of Mexico and the one site off the coast of Alaska that are contemplated for new drilling in this draft plan. And their track record shows that they will only destroy ocean ecosystems, devastate the local fishing industry with fewer and more contaminated fish, and pollute the air and water of local communities.

But with so much political attention on these leases and the full power of Big Oil, we need at least 20,000 more advocates to speak out. If you would like to take action, click Act now: say no to new ocean drilling leases.

In addition to risky ocean infrastructure that threatens marine life, clean water, and the public health of coastal communities, increased offshore drilling means increased onshore industrial infrastructure. Here’s what happens to our lands when we drill more in our oceans:

• More pipelines are created. Almost always, this means the destruction of pristine lands, endangering wildlife populations, and sacrificing low-wealth communities and communities of color.

• Waste is disposed of on land. Waste that is too toxic or radioactive to go in the ocean gets transported to land. What doesn’t get leaked in the process can end up ruining freshwater supplies or even be spread onto soil to “dilute” the pollutants.

• Ports can fuel oil spills and air pollution. Oil tankers in ports can be another source of oil spills, coating the coastline and harbors with sludge. Even when they do not leak, the high concentrations of oil and gas pollute the air with toxins.

We must put policies in place today that center frontline and coastal communities who already bear the brunt of climate change burdens and will help limit the warming of the earth for decades to come.

For questions, or more information, contact:

Marisa Olszewski, Environmental Policy Manager

Maryland League of Conservation Voters

Maryland LCV Education Fund

30 West Street, Suite C

Annapolis, MD 21401


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