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Report: Offshore Wind Better Job Creator Than Offshore Drilling

GinaMarie headshotWords by Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Data & Technology

While proponents of offshore drilling along the Atlantic coast tout it as a job-creator, the practice would actually cost jobs, according to a new report.

Offshore drilling would put at risk some of the almost 1.4 million jobs and over $95 billion in gross domestic product that rely on healthy ocean ecosystems. Offshore wind could provide twice the amount of jobs and energy as offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, a new report by Oceana finds. Oceana’s projections only show the amount of jobs that could be created by 2035. However, many more could be created after that date, according to the report.

Gradually developing offshore wind energy on the East Coast would result in 143 gigawatts of power being generated over the next 20 years. That is enough energy to power over 115 million households. In the next 20 years, offshore wind could create about 91,000 more jobs than offshore drilling. The energy created by 20 years of offshore wind in the Atlantic could produce 5 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) more than the oil and gas that is recoverable in the same area. Extracting and using all of the economically-recoverable offshore oil and gas in the Atlantic would only meet oil demand for 132 days and gas demand for 283 days. Offshore wind could generate more energy in just 13 years than all of the economically-recoverable offshore oil and gas resources, the report concludes.

Offshore wind could provide electricity to the coastal communities and major cities on the East Coast. Over 53 million people live in counties bordering the Atlantic. Offshore drilling would only export oil and gas away from the region and possibly outside the U.S. It would also bring the threat of a major oil spill and increase greenhouse gas emissions, while offshore would would lower them.

“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,” said Andrew Menaquale, report author and energy analyst at Oceana, in a statement. “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.”

Use of airguns could damage ecosystems

Long before a rig is put in the Atlantic, offshore drilling could start to damage ecosystems. The Obama administration announced its decision in July to consider proposals to use seismic airguns that cause dynamite-type blasts to look for oil and gas deposits below the ocean floor -- in an area twice the size of California -- from Delaware to Florida.

Airguns create blasts that are “one of the loudest human-generated noises in the ocean today,” the report states. Marine mammals that rely on hearing to survive would be put at risk from hearing loss. This includes endangered and threatened species. By the Obama administration’s own estimates, seismic surveys in the Atlantic could injure 138,000 marine mammals and disturb vital activities for 13.5 million more.

Image credit: Statkraft

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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