Report: Atlantic Coast Offshore Wind Could Produce Twice The Energy, Jobs As Offshore Drilling

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Offshore wind would produce twice the jobs and energy as offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, according to a report released by advocacy group Oceana.

The report, ‘Offshore Energy by the Numbers, An Economic Analysis of Offshore Drilling and Wind Energy in the Atlantic,’ challenges recent claims by the oil and gas industry that opening the East Coast to offshore drilling will lead the U.S. to energy independence, generate millions of dollars in revenue for states and create thousands of jobs in the process.

To the contrary, Oceana's analysis finds that the benefits projected by the fossil-fuel advocates appear to be exaggerated due to the inclusion of oil and gas resources that are not economically recoverable, thereby inflating the potential benefits. Oil and gas industry estimates also rely upon an assumption of a state revenue-sharing system that does not exist.

‘Our report compares economically recoverable oil and gas development to conservative estimates of offshore wind development to allow an 'apples-to-apples' comparison of the energy and jobs that would be created by each source,’ says Andrew Menaquale, report author and energy analyst at Oceana. ‘The American public deserves to know the facts when it comes to expanding this dirty and dangerous practice to the East Coast and what alternatives there are for clean energy generation.’

Oceana's report also finds that offshore oil and gas development along the Atlantic could put at risk some of the nearly 1.4 million jobs and over $95 billion in gross domestic product that rely on healthy ocean ecosystems, mainly through fishing, tourism and recreation. In fact, Oceana says the threats of offshore drilling would begin far before a rig is ever put in the water. In July, the Obama administration announced its decision to consider proposals for the use of seismic airguns that make dynamite-like blasts to search for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean floor in an area twice the size of California, stretching from Delaware to Florida.

‘Based on the government's own estimates, seismic blasting in the Atlantic could harm fish populations while injuring as many as 138,000 marine mammals like whales and dolphins, disturbing the vital activities of as many as 13.5 million more,’ Menaquale says. ‘Instead of working to fully understand the implications of rushing to develop offshore oil and gas, our elected officials are being blinded by imaginary short-term profits and missing the real opportunity that wind provides.’

The report's other key findings include the following:

  • In 13 years, offshore wind could generate more energy than could be provided by all of the economically recoverable offshore oil and gas resources.
  • In the next 20 years, offshore wind could create about 91,000 more jobs than offshore drilling (about double the job creation potential of offshore oil and gas).
  • A modest and gradual development of offshore wind on the East Coast over the next 20 years could generate enough energy to power over 115 million households.
  • The Atlantic Ocean contains less than 4% of the nation's total oil reserves and less than 3% of its gas reserves.
  • In the seven states pondering offshore drilling, offshore wind would produce more jobs.
  • North Carolina has the highest wind resource and job creation potential of any state in the targeted offshore drilling zone.

To read the full report, click here.

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