President Trump ’s offshore oil and natural gas drilling plan could contribute up to $590 billion to the U.S. economy within two decades, according to new research commissioned by the oil industry.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) released four studies Friday, written by Calash and Northern Economics, focusing on each of the areas where the administration is considering allowing or expanding offshore drilling: the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts, as well as around Alaska.
The Atlantic alone could see $260 billion in new economic activity, while the Pacific has the potential for $160 billion, the study said.
The plan has been controversial and seen bipartisan opposition from states along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Opponents say drilling would threaten the environment, tourism and fishing, as well as exacerbate climate change.
But with the studies released Friday, the API is trying to push back, arguing that it would be beneficial not just for the country as a whole but also specifically for the coastal communities where opposition has been strongest.
“Ultimately, the studies confirmed what the U.S. oil and natural gas industry has supported over the years: opening the currently restricted [outer continental shelf] areas would increase economic benefits, not only specifically for the coastal regions near the offshore development, but also nationally as well,” Erik Milito, the group’s director for upstream operations, told reporters.
“It should be welcome news for U.S. consumers and families that are looking for increased jobs, investment in their communities and energy and national security.”
Milito said the studies, based largely on what offshore drilling has already done in the Gulf of Mexico, show that drilling can coexist with the various interests who are opposing the plan.
“We have not seen, in the experience of this industry, a negative impact when it comes to tourism, commercial fishing and these amenity-type economies,” he said. “In fact, all the data we’ve seen has suggest the opposite, that when you bring in a lot of good-paying jobs to help drive economic stimulus to these economies, they bring investment in, they build up communities, they provide money for infrastructure and transportation, and it’s a win-win-win for all those different economies all together.”
The study came on the day that public comments are due on Trump’s drilling plan.
It also came days after Oceana, a conservation group opposed to drilling, released its own economic analysis, saying that drilling threatens 2.6 million jobs and almost $180 billion in economic activity in coastal economies.
“From ocean views scattered with drilling platforms, to the industrialization of our coastal communities, to the unacceptable risk of BP Deepwater Horizon-like disasters, expanding offshore drilling to new areas threatens thriving coastal economies and booming industries like tourism, recreation and fishing that rely on oil-free beaches and healthy oceans,” Diane Hoskins, campaign director at Oceana, said in a statement.
But the API pushed back.
“I would characterize our studies as being a bit based in reality,” he said. “We’ve seen in the Gulf of Mexico the success of the industry in terms of coexisting and working closely with tourism, commercial fishing as well as the military.”
While Friday is the comment deadline for the plan, it is far from final.
The administration must analyze the input, put out a new proposal, take comments on it, analyze those and then finalize it.
Any new drilling would be years away and come after further environmental review and drilling rights sales, among other steps.