Turbines create more jobs, energy than drilling rigs — group 

Source: Emily Yehle, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, January 15, 2015

A new report from Oceana makes the case for offshore wind development along the East Coast, asserting it would create more jobs and energy than offshore drilling.

The nonprofit hopes to influence the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management as it decides whether to open the Atlantic Ocean to oil and gas leasing in its 2017-22 leasing plan. The agency already allows companies to conduct oil and gas surveys, which use air gun blasts to narrow down the location and quantity of mineral deposits (Greenwire, July 18, 2014).

Oceana’s argument is twofold: Offshore drilling is not economically worth it, and it would threaten the health of oceans and marine life that in turn support other industries.

BOEM estimates there is 4.72 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil and 37.51 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas in the Atlantic outer continental shelf (E&ENews PM, July 18, 2014). But Oceana’s report points out that almost half of that may not be economically viable to extract — and even if it was, the total reserves would meet domestic oil and gas consumption for only 250 days and 526 days, respectively.

Offshore wind, on the other hand, could produce power “long after the finite oil and gas deposits in the Atlantic [outer continental shelf] run dry,” according to the report. By converting wind energy to “barrels of oil equivalent,” the report estimates that offshore wind could produce more energy than offshore drilling after 13 years.

On the issue of jobs, the report asserts that offshore wind has the potential to create twice as many as offshore drilling by 2035. It also links drilling — and the sonic blasts to find mineral deposits — to oceans-based industries such as fishing and tourism that pump tens of billions of dollars into the East Coast.

“Based on the government’s own estimates, seismic blasting in the Atlantic could harm fish populations while injuring as many as 138,000 marine mammals like whales and dolphins, disturbing the vital activities of as many as 13.5 million more,” Andrew Menaquale, an energy analyst at Oceana who authored the report, said in a statement. “Instead of working to fully understand the implications of rushing to develop offshore oil and gas, our elected officials are being blinded by imaginary short-term profits and missing the real opportunity that wind provides.”