For the first time in 30 years, there are plans to open federal waters to expansionary drilling. Here’s what you need to know about offshore drilling to create an informed opinion on why this harmful practice needs to be stopped.
Offshore drilling refers to the process of extracting oil and gas resources from underwater locations. This mechanical process involves drilling below the seabed to harvest these reserves. We consume 80 million barrels of oil a day, so to meet the country’s growing demand for fossil fuels, petroleum companies are constantly searching for more resources. Over the years, offshore drilling has been conducted at increasingly deeper sites, as more shallow fossil fuel reserves have become depleted. Some offshore drilling facilities sit on towers that reach depths of 1220 meters below the surface, larger than any skyscraper to date. With increased depth comes increased danger. Offshore drilling operations create multiple forms of pollution that have disastrous effects on marine animals and other wildlife. Drilling projects normally function on a 24-hour basis, creating the potential for a large-scale effect on the surrounding environment.
Offshore drilling’s most obvious danger is the inevitable threat of oil spills. These toxic spills decimate the ecology and can leave an area void of life for centuries. The largest oil spill in U.S. history was the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig fire in 2010. This environmental disaster released more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, killing thousands of marine animals through direct contact, inhalation, and ingestion of the toxic oil. The Gulf of Mexico may never recover from the 2010 oil spill. Oil leaks have not been stopped, and oil continues to poison the waters. Thousands of gallons of crude oil are still being released into the Gulf every year. Areas once rich with biodiversity are now desolate.
Another impact of offshore drilling is the use of seismic blasting. These blasts use air guns to test potential drill sites. The sound signals can physically damage the fish, dolphins, and other animals that rely on sound for communication, food, and traveling. It has been proven that seismic blasts can rupture the eardrums of dolphins and whales in the surrounding area, ultimately killing them. These signals are not short-term either. According to some estimates, these seismic blasts can cover up to 2500 miles and continue for almost a month.
Offshore drilling causes immense damage to ecosystems, which is why we denounce the practice and are petitioning to ban it. More than 750 new drilling sites have been proposed just off the coast of California. It could only be a matter of time before every California beach has an oil-rig within sight. We ask you to join us in our mission to #SaveTheFishies. Offshore drilling has colossal negative impacts on the environment, so take a stand with Sand Cloud and our nonprofit partners at the Earth Fair 2019 to show your support.
What can you do right now? Tell Congress.