Former CEO, Surfrider Foundation

Let’s start by establishing the value of the coastlines we’re talking about in the United States. Coastal tourism in CA, FL, NY, NJ and WA alone account for $129 billion dollars in leisure and hospitality companies, services and jobs. Fishing from both coasts accounts for $11.8 billion and $1.9 billion in recreational and commercial fishing respectively.

If we stripped away the political rhetoric and solely looked at offshore drilling with economic lenses we’d see that it doesn’t make good business sense.

We know the most expensive property is coastal. A house near or on the coast is worth much more than a comparable house away from the coast.


This summer’s horrific BP spill delivered an economic hit that will be in the billions of dollars to the Gulf Coast.

Now let’s look at how much oil is potentially available offshore related to how much we use and need.

The United States is a massive user of other countries oil. We have less than 3% of the world’s oil reserves and yet we use over 20% of the world’s oil reserves. Those two figures should make you pause. More than making you pause they should underscore the fact that we cannot solve our problem by drilling offshore. We don’t have enough oil everywhere in the United States to satisfy even half of our current needs.

To put this consumption into daily figures, the amount the United States consumes is 20.7 million barrels of oil per day. The amount the United States produces 8.3 million barrels a day.

The best case scenario for what we COULD drill off our coasts is 2 – 4 million barrels a day.

Increased offshore drilling can’t get us off foreign oil anymore than a half a talk of gas in your car can’t magically act like a full tank. We don’t have a full tank… we barely have a half tank.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (part of the Department of Energy) stated: “…[drilling in] the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on oil prices before 2030”. The report continues to say: “Because oil prices are determined on the international market … any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.”

We have to wait several years in order to experience a small amount of relief at the pump? And while we’re waiting for “relief at the pump”, we would be harming our economy and environment by drilling.

Read more from Jim Moriarty on his blog, Ocean, Waves, and Beaches.

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