Extreme weather and hurricanes do not mix with offshore drilling

Extreme weather and hurricanes do not mix with offshore drilling
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Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria are difficult reminders that people, property and infrastructure along our coast are highly vulnerable to catastrophic damage from increasingly extreme weather events. But what has not been discussed enough is how more extreme weather will make offshore oil development even riskier than it already is.

The Trump administration should be taking this into account as it considers plans to fast-track the expansion of offshore drilling and exploration.

After Hurricane Harvey, The Washington Post reported that ExxonMobil acknowledged that the storm damaged two of its refineries, releasing hazardous pollutants. Reuters reported “the U.S. Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency are working with Texas state regulators to clean up oil and chemicals spilled from a dozen industrial facilities after flooding from Hurricane Harvey.”

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And that is just damage to land-based facilities. Impacts from Hurricanes Rita and Katrina together destroyed 115 offshore oil platforms in the Gulf and damaged 52 others.

Offshore drilling is inherently dirty and dangerous, as the world saw when BP’s Deepwater Horizon exploded in 2010, killing 11 people and spewing 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. As hurricanes and tropical storms occur with greater frequency and severity, offshore drilling becomes even more dangerous. This is not a threat we should bring to any new areas in the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific oceans, or the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

As hurricanes and tropical storms occur with greater frequency and severity, offshore drilling becomes even more dangerous. This is not a threat we should bring to any new areas in the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific oceans, or the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

More drilling combined with more storms is a predictable recipe for disaster.

It is time to move the national discussion toward adopting clean energy, instead of shortsighted proposals that will turn our beach towns into oil towns. The extensive infrastructure required to pump, move and process oil would mean rigs, refineries, pipelines and pollution. Each storm would add another dimension of risk for coastal communities and the economies they support.

Given that 130 municipalities, 1,200 bipartisan elected officials and 41,000 coastal businesses relying on healthy oceans have already publicly opposed offshore drilling — it is time for the oil and gas industry to see the writing on the wall. Expanded offshore drilling will never produce enough oil to offset the risk of its devastating consequences.

Recent storms are just another reminder of why the Trump administration should deny permits for seismic airgun blasting and halt any moves toward developing new offshore oil drilling.

Diane Hoskins is the campaign director at Oceana, an international ocean advocacy organization established in 2001 by The Pew Charitable Trusts, Oak Foundation, Marisla Foundation (formerly Homeland Foundation), and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.