Offshore Oil Revenue: A Bad Deal for Virginia

Offshore drilling is an inherently dirty, risky business. That’s reflected in the overwhelming public and political opposition that met the Trump Administration’s introduction of a plan to put nearly all U.S. waters on the table. In an effort to overcome this opposition, oil industry allies in Congress perennially propose the expansion of revenue sharing schemes—currently in place on a substantial scale only in the Gulf of Mexico. Under these schemes, a portion of federal revenues from offshore leasing and production are shared with neighboring coastal states. But this not a bargain worth making.

If offshore drilling were expanded as the Trump administration intends, coastal communities, economies, and ecosystems would all suffer. And revenue sharing is not worth those damages. Revenue sharing also skews priorities towards maximizing oil production at the expense of the health of constituents’ communities, the conservation of a state’s s special landscapes, and the need for appropriately urgent mitigation of climate change.

A new primer by NRDC looks at those risks and some of the less-discussed consequences of offshore drilling revenue sharing in Virginia where this proposal has been floated many times, thankfully being rejected each time. Virginia’s elected representatives should—without qualification—oppose the introduction of offshore drilling and revenue sharing. In short:

  • The introduction and rapid expansion of oil extraction in an area has been shown to disrupt both the finances and social health of the most-involved communities over the course of decades.
  • Reliance on an inherently volatile revenue source, like oil, can create fiscal traps in which government functions can unexpectedly be left underfunded.
  • Offshore drilling results in routine pollution, increased industrialization in coastal areas, and the risk of major and devastating spills.
  • Expanding offshore drilling today would be a major step in the wrong direction in the fight against climate change when there’s no time to lose in addressing it.

You can find the primer here.

About the Authors

Jacob Eisenberg

Associate Advocate, Oceans and Land & Wildlife programs

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