Posted by John Cooke in Cape May, News, Tourism on February 23, 2018
Business Reasons for Opposing Offshore Oil Drilling
Vicki Clark, President of the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce, provides this informational blog post on opposing offshore oil drilling. When you drill, you spill. The federal government admits that oil spills are inevitable predicting one spill a year for every 1,000 barrels of oil produced. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management reports 2,440 oil spills in the Gulf between 1964-2015 and 497 oil “accidents” in 2016. Federal records show that 20% of all oil spills are due to human error.
Spills threaten local economies. The Cape May County coastal tourism economy accounts for over 25,000 jobs and $6.2 billion in revenues. To realize any economic benefits of oil off the coast of New Jersey, the state would have to give up on much of the tourism revenue due to spills and oil infrastructure that pushes away local tourism. High-paying offshore jobs require extensive training and experience with most oil workers rotating to rigs from long distances. Local jobs would be low paying and consist of water transportation of personnel and supplies to rigs.
In New Jersey, the tourism economy generates over $44.1 billion and employs 517,000 people. Our coastal tourism economy is $20.2 billion and creates 233,000. The state and local taxes generated by our state tourism economy offsets each New Jersey household tax burden by $1,525 making this horrific proposal of offshore drilling a problem for every New Jersey homeowner.
Spills hurt tourism. After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 Louisiana’s leisure visitor spending dropped by $247 million that year. Six weeks after the spill Gulf Coast hotel cancellation rates rose to 60% and 84% of the hotels reported difficulty booking future events. The BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico (2010) is clear evidence of the dangers associated with offshore drilling, including costing the lives of 11 people, devastating coastal economies and countless livelihoods, and killing countless marine animals, as well as continuing to cause harm to marine life as documented by a steady flow of studies. Many gulf coast communities experienced economic losses even if they did not experience oil on their beaches because of the perception of damage. In Cape May County where our beach driven tourism is the economic engine that fuels our economy, we would essentially be out of business.
Spills and leaks harm the beach experience. Hotels on the Gulf and Pacific Coasts provide wipes to those walking on the beach to remove oil and tar balls off their feet.
Big oil hurts our coastal environment. Cape May is one of the top ten birding hotspots in the Western Hemisphere and the horseshoe crab/red knot phenomena on the Delaware Bay beaches is the only hope for protecting the endangered red knot species of birds. Cape May County has 145 miles of Atlantic Ocean, Delaware Bay, and Barrier Island coastline – all of which could be destroyed by an oil spill. Oil spills travel vast distances and the Gulf Stream and Labrador Ocean current all flow toward New Jersey making the region venerable to spills happening anywhere along the Atlantic Coast.
2nd Largest Port On The East Coast
Seismic testing hurts commercial fishing and local economies. Seismic testing is an old destructive oil exploration technology that the federal government admits will kill or harm 138,000 marine mammals like whales and dolphins. Plus, the firing of arrays of air cannons every 12 seconds toward the ocean floor 24-7 for months results in harm, behavioral changes and even death to commercial and recreational fish, invertebrates (like shrimp, oysters and scallops) and plankton. The Port of Cape May/Wildwood is the 2nd largest on the east coast and Commercial fishermen have reported reductions of fish catch of up to 80% due to seismic testing. Less fresh catch would reverberate throughout seafood market businesses including increasing the cost of seafood to local restaurants and their customers.
There is no federal revenue sharing. Congress has never passed legislation to allow for oil lease royalties to be shared with Atlantic Coast states. In fact, the Trump Administration has proposed stopping such revenue sharing with Gulf Coast states.
Atlantic Coast governors oppose drilling and testing. The majority of Governors from Maine to Florida oppose drilling along the Atlantic Coast.
Along the East Coast Over 42,000 businesses oppose offshore drilling and testing. The Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast, the leading business voice opposing offshore drilling and testing in the Atlantic, has the official support of organizations representing over 42,000 businesses from Maine to Florida including hotel/restaurant associations and chambers of commerce.
We don’t need the little bit of oil in the Atlantic. Thanks to onshore oil production, the U.S. exports about one million gallons of oil. A Wall Street Journal editorial said: “The U.S. is now emerging as the world’s energy superpower” and in some weeks the U.S. exports “more than one million barrels of oil per day.” The WSJ does acknowledge that the “U.S. still imports about 25% of petroleum consumption on net” but ads that its “mostly from Canada and Mexico”.
Current estimates of the amount of technically recoverable oil off the entire Atlantic coast from Maine to Florida would only last the nation approximately 229 days, and the amount of technically recoverable gas would only last approximately 562 days. The risks of offshore drilling far out-weigh the benefits.
NJ Elected Officials Speak With One Voice of Opposition. In a letter to Secretary Zinke on January 14, 2018, then Governor Christie, Governor Murphy, Senator Menendez, and Senator Booker said to Secretary Zinke: “You have said that your responsibility to evaluate our nation’s offshore oil and gas leasing plan will emphasize the consideration of local and state voices,” the letter stated. “We write to demonstrate that when it comes to protecting New Jersey’s coast, New Jersey speaks with one voice, united in opposition to allowing drilling off our shores.” The people of New Jersey do not want drilling off our coast and along with that any potential impact to New Jersey’s coast from drilling anywhere along the Atlantic Coast must be equally considered because of the Gulf Stream and Labrador Current flow.