Why nearshore oil drilling is bad: a handy guide

A long time ago, Frog sent me this poll showing that otherwise environmentally-conscious Americans favor nearshore drilling when gas prices are high. Her conclusions were “1. I hate MSNBC and numbers 2. I hate people and 3. I bet TOG might have something to say about this.”

And indeed we do, even 5 weeks after the poll came out. (Sorry, Frog.) Here’s a handy point-by-point completely non-comprehensive list for arguing with your right-wing uncle over the Labor Day barbecue.

Nearshore drilling will NOT lower gas prices.

McCain declared a couple weeks ago, “We need to drill more, drill now, and pay less at the pump.” Unfortunately, according to the Washington Post, the Energy Department itself estimates that production would not start until 2017 and would have no “significant” effect on prices or supplies until 2030.

And what does “significant effect on prices” mean anyway? Slate’s Green Lantern estimates that the most optimistic estimate (from an oil company) for American production would only increase global oil production by 1%. This would only lower prices at the pump by 3 percent. So if gas remains $4.30 per gallon, prices would be reduced by 12 cents, or to a less-than-stunning $4.18 per gallon.

Since I’m a graduate student and Eric is an alt-weekly reporter, we are pretty budget conscious. Still, saving $1.44 per tank or $5.76 per month does not make a huge difference in our lives, and I imagine that it wouldn’t significantly improve the lot of most Americans.

Nearshore drilling will NOT provide energy security.

CR McClain’s handy pie chart speaks for itself. Even with drilling everything in the country, the US will still be dependent on foreign oil.

Nearshore drilling WILL cause environmental damage, but not because of oil spills.

Everyone keeps talking about oil spills, which of course are very damaging when they happen. But oil platform don’t release much oil – most oil spills happen during transportation. And oil platforms do attract fish and grow all kinds of tasty bivalves. So why doesn’t this benthic ecologist stop worrying and learn to love the drilling platform?

Because oil platforms grow jellyfish, too. Most jellies need a hard surface in order to complete their life cycle. Jellies produce a planula larvae that settles on a hard surface and proceeds to asexually reproduce its tiny patooty off. (It’s called strobilation.) Each individual polyp can produce tens to hundreds of adult jellies.

Normally, hard surfaces are, well, hard to come by in the ocean. For example, in the Gulf of Mexico, pretty much everything is muddy or sandy except for the odd rock. The lack of rocks should naturally limit the jelly population.  But when you add in GIANT HUGE METAL TOWERS, people are basically giving jellies the run of the house and the keys to the liquor cabinet.

When artificial hard surfaces are combined with pollution and overfishing of the jellies’ predators, we get nasty situations like in this NY Times article from last week. (Thanks, Riana!) So never mind the logical and aesthetic arguments – if you don’t like getting stung by jellies at the beach, or if you like eating fish and not jelly burgers, you should be against nearshore oil drilling.

(Thanks for the articles, Frog and Riana! Also thanks to Alison for imparting her jelly polyp wisdom.)

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42 Responses to Why nearshore oil drilling is bad: a handy guide

  1. jebyrnes says:

    New fresh bare substrate where before there was none = (non-native) tunicate heaven! And other fun things! There’s one out here in SB that I hear is covered almost entirely with a single species of non-native amphipod. I’ve also heard that Didemnum perlucidum likes gulf coast rigs.

  2. So true! I wonder how benthic-only species (the tunicates, amphipod, bryozoans) are interacting with the natural system. There’s been some work showing that fish associated with artifical reefs eat all the soft-sediment benthic fauna for a huge distance around, but I wonder how this works when the benthos is really far down, like for offshore oil platforms.

  3. Hisly says:

    Posts like this are so key! I KNOW it’s bad, but as it’s not my area of expertise, I don’t have well crafted arguments to back up the obvious. Thank you.

  4. frog says:

    Ooh ooh ooh! I forgot I sent you this! Happy to see that it yielded such a lovely and helpful post… Hooray, hooray, I have things to tell my very own Republican dad. :)

  5. shawnah-may Persinegr says:

    thank you! i have a debate tomorrow and this really helped me!!!
    -shawna

  6. Jaygirl12345 says:

    This website was very helpful to learn about this cause. These people really know what they are talking about and they know how to reach out to the people.I am so thankful I clicked on this website. -Jaygirl

  7. TabbieTerror(: says:

    Love the ;liquior cabinet part:D

  8. jennifer;D says:

    we still need oil to make gas- and we cant just haul it in from somewhere eles beacause 1) we will go into farther dept and 2) we’ll be using more oil. i do belive that we sould find safe and natual alternatives (witch sientists are working on now) but what will we use in the mean time? the alternatives they have found are too expensive for the averige American. but i can see were u r comming from.

  9. jennifer;D says:

    i do think jelly burgers r gross though! lol

  10. Cordy says:

    I was so confused about what to buy, but this makes it udnerastndable.

  11. Anonymous says:

    somepeople justbwant money and if oil drilling is allowed than they need to vote

  12. idk says:

    Somepeople just want money and dont care about animals and wildlife come on people think

  13. Dark ace says:

    they should not do that because if they do will not have fish to eat

  14. Anonymous says:

    helped me alot on my editorial thnx!!!!!! :)

  15. dani underwood says:

    hi im a middle schooler and this really helped me on my report for class thnx!!!!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Thanks! this helped alot

  17. Tori says:

    Thanks!!!!!! i really liked your info!! Im also agianst nearshore oil drilling!! F.Y.I. This is for a school project

    Kitty:) :) :) :)

  18. Ashlie says:

    You basicly against Jelly Fish? Harsh….

  19. ally says:

    hey my name is ally allen and i go to mckeel academy and my teacher mr nations is telling us to do reaserch on near shore oil drilling can any one please give me some tips it is due tomarro thanks ally allen <3 countrygirl got game <3

  20. Anonymous says:

    i agree and this is a school project to lol we can be friends wut is ur name

  21. anonomous says:

    hey thanks i’m in middle school and this will help with my editorial at stambaugh Mrs.Robinson

  22. anonomous says:

    cameron

  23. anonomous says:

    well there goes being anonomous

  24. anonomous says:

    someone please comment

  25. Anonymous says:

    they should not allow near shore oil drilling because it is preventing pollution and we all ready have a high rate of our country’s population.If they drill the shores of Florida are beaches are gonna look ugly.If they do drill the shores it will not lower gas prices.

  26. anonomous says:

    they shouldn’t drill closer it wouldn’t help

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  40. Thanks for the read. You really got your point across. I didn’t realize that it wont lower gas prices. I also thought that it wouldn’t hurt the environment . I guess you can’t always believe what you hear.

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