Plans to expand drilling off the coast of Maryland could have significant negative impacts onshore, according to a new report released today by Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center. From pipelines running through sensitive coastal habitats to air pollution released by oil refineries, “Offshore Drilling, Onshore Damage: Broken Pipelines, Dirty Refineries and the Pollution Impacts of Energy Infrastructure” highlights how onshore industrial infrastructure created for offshore drilling damages our environment in a variety of ways.
“We want to visit clean beaches, smell the ocean breeze, and admire the marine life off our coast -- not avoid pipelines, choke on pollution from oil refineries, and contend with oil barges,” said Kate Breimann, advocate for Environment Maryland. “Drilling off our coast may seem a distance from our homes and businesses, but the onshore infrastructure necessary to drill for dirty fossil fuels creates a pressing threat to the health of both our ecosystems and so many Marylanders.”
Pipelines running from offshore rigs to inland processing facilities can worsen estuaries’ water quality and increase the likelihood of oil spills across beaches, according to the report. In addition, toxic waste brought onshore from drilling operations can pollute drinking water and tracts of land. Beyond those issues, air pollution from oil refineries also threatens local residents’ health.
These problems could only get worse, the report notes. Expanding offshore drilling, as the Trump administration proposed last year, could lead to additional infrastructure pollution in previously pristine coastal areas, where communities have long been able to avoid this type of industrialization.
“Every offshore oil rig is a ticking time bomb,” said Chairman Kumar Barve, who sponsored the Offshore Drilling Act in 2018. “I'm really proud that Maryland understood that, and diffused the bomb before it went off.”
The Trump administration increased the likelihood of more drilling in January 2018, when it released a plan to open more than 90 percent of America’s oceans to oil and gas drilling, including off Maryland’s coast. The plan, which would be an unprecedented expansion of this invasive form of fossil fuel extraction, faces stiff opposition, including from every governor along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
“Whether it causes oil spills off our coast or pollution on our shores, offshore drilling is dirty and dangerous,” said Breimann. “We don’t want drilling off our coast, now or ever.”
The Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center is a 501(c)(3) organization. We are dedicated to protecting Maryland’s air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decisionmakers, and help Marylanders make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives. For more information about Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center or for additional copies of this report, please visit www.environmentmarylandcenter.org.