Offshore Drilling Fact Sheet

Indigenous Rights

  • Indigenous peoples across the continent have been vigorously protesting offshore drilling for decades.
  • Offshore drilling threatens key fishing and hunting grounds of Alaskan native peoples, risking malnutrition and economic disruption.
  • Native Alaskan people are already becoming climate refugees due to melting permafrost.
  • Indigenous people along the Gulf Coast are also being forced to relocate due to rising sea levels from climate change

Safety and Worker’s Rights

  • According to the CDC, offshore oil workers are seven times more likely to have a fatal work accident than the average American.
  • 28 out of every 100,000 offshore workers dies on the job, averaging 15 deaths per year. In contrast, OSHA reports four fatal accidents for the entire solar industry to date
  • Almost half of offshore drilling deaths are related to equipment failure, and new regulation repeals will lower safety standards more.
  • Decreased safety standards means a higher risk of all accidents, including major explosions and oil spills.


  • Each drilling platform leaks over 90,000 metric tons of toxic drilling fluid per year into the ocean.
  • A single drilling platform can produce 2 billion gallons of wastewater per year. That wastewater includes over 70,000 gallons of oil
  • Waste from the platform construction and drilling, including metal shards and toxic chemicals, is dumped directly into the ocean, adding to overall pollution.
  • Drilling has been linked to increased mercury levels in local fish
  • Current US offshore drilling operations dump 880,000 gallons of oil into our oceans each year.
  • Drilling platforms use and contaminate billions of gallons of drinking water each year, contributing to water shortages around the country.
  • Toxins released during drilling can damage the immune systems of fish, birds, and mammals– including humans
  • Predators, including humans, can suffer kidney failure and other fatal health problems from eating fish exposed to toxins from offshore drilling.

Climate Change

  • Flares from offshore drilling rigs produce black carbon, which contributes significantly to climate change.
  • CO2 generated by the oil rig itself is equivalent to 7,000 cars driving 50 miles a day.
  • Planned new offshore drilling projects would release 850 metric tons of carbon (the equivalent of driving 3.2 million cars over 50 years.
  • The previously estimated cost of those emissions would exceed $170 billion from natural disasters, health problems, and climate refugees.


  • Noise pollution from offshore oil exploration and drilling can kill fish eggs, and kill or disorient adult fish up to 2,500 miles away from the drilling site.
  • Marine biologists estimate the 138,000 whales and dolphins would be killed in the seismic blasts from new proposed East Coast drilling alone.
  • Whales and dolphins that don’t die from seismic blasts can become deaf, rendering them unable to navigate or hunt.
  • Flares from offshore oil rigs incinerate 200,000 seabirds each year in the Gulf of Mexico alone. In contrast, the average wind turbine kills fewer than three birds in a year (10x-100x fewer than the average office building)
  • Oiled wildlife


  • Offshore drilling endangers the coastal tourist industry, which is worth $166 billion USD on the west coast alone.
  • Washington would lose $52 billion in coastal tourism revenue.
  • The Pacific Northwest stands to lose $800 million in revenue from recreational fishing.
  • Washington’s $300 million dollar commercial fishing industry would be destroyed by offshore drilling