Boston– Drilling for oil off of the coast of Massachusetts could have significant negative impacts onshore, according to a new report released today by Environment Massachusetts 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 Ben Hellerstein, state director for Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center. “The onshore infrastructure necessary to drill for dirty fossil fuels creates a pressing threat to the health of both our ecosystems and Massachusetts residents.”
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 to new areas of the ocean could lead to additional industrial infrastructure in pristine coastal areas.
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 Massachusetts' coast. The plan, temporarily on hold, would be an unprecedented expansion of drilling, and faces stiff opposition, including from every governor along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
Representative Dylan Fernandes and Senator Julian Cyr have filed legislation to protect Massachusetts from offshore drilling. The bill would prohibit any activities related to offshore drilling that would take place on land or in coastal waters in Massachusetts.
“Whether it causes oil spills off our coast or pollution on our shores, offshore drilling is dirty and dangerous,” said Hellerstein. “We don’t want drilling off our coast, now or ever.”