Fossil fuels are being extracted off the coast of our state through a practice known as offshore drilling. This type of oil and natural gas extraction uses large platforms that reach into the depths of our oceans. The effects of offshore drilling can pose a risk to wildlife and potentially pollute our air and waterways.
What’s Going On?
Offshore drilling is a method of oil and natural gas extraction that uses large fixed or floating platforms that reach into the depths of the oceans.
As of 2019, there are approximately 1,862 oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
In 2010, an oil rig explosion at the Deepwater Horizon location in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers and injured 17 others. This explosion caused 4.9 million barrels of oil to leak into the Gulf making it the largest oil spill in U.S. history.
More than a decade later, researchers at the University of Miami have found 210 million gallons of oil still polluting over 92,500 square miles of the Gulf.
Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act
The bulk of protection from offshore drilling in Florida can be found in the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) Moratorium.
This part of the act bans oil and gas leasing within 100-125 miles off the coastline of Florida, depending on location.
However, these vital protections from offshore drilling are only written to be upheld until this year, 2022.
Why It Matters.
Offshore drilling operations risk polluting the surrounding air and water. This is because the actions necessary to drill offshore like exploration at the platform, transporting oil, and refining the oil release greenhouse gases, volatile organic compounds, and other pollutants that can harm oceans, beaches and wetlands.
Offshore drilling can also pose a risk to animals. For example, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill killed an estimated 25,900 marine mammals, 82,000 birds, 6,165 sea turtles, and a vast amount of fish.
Oil spills can also have a negative economic impact on industries that rely on healthy wildlife & waterways in Florida. Fishing in Florida produces a total of $13.8 billion and 120,000 jobs annually. Any threat to fish populations, like offshore drilling, can pose a threat to those economic gains.
What you can do.
- Let your representatives know how you feel about offshore drilling.
- Be involved in any clean-ups or wildlife care efforts for areas affected by oil spills.
- Find alternative transportation to reduce your reliance on the oil and natural gases extracted from offshore drilling sites.
Information from US Department of the Interior, FL Department of Environmental Protection, FL Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, BSEE, Center for Biological Diversity, & US News & World Report.