Brown University Professor Discusses Local Impacts Of Offshore Drilling

Jan 23, 2018

A public hearing in Providence this week on the Trump Administration’s plan to expand oil and gas drilling will be rescheduled after the end of the federal government shutdown.

Leases for drilling haven’t been sold in any part of the Atlantic since 1983, according to the U.S. Interior Department, but President Donald Trump wants to change that with his proposal to open up more than 90 percent of coastal waters for business.   

In the past few weeks, Rhode Island politicians have spoken out against the president’s plan, including Gov. Gina Raimondo, who said Trump is endangering the health of the state’s coastline.

Environmentalists in the region have claimed there is not a need to extract oil and gas when more renewable energy resources are coming online each year. 

Avory Brookins, environmental reporter at Rhode Island Public Radio, sat down with Lint Barrage, assistant professor of economics and environmental studies at Brown University, to get a better sense of how oil and gas exploration could impact New England. 

Barrage said there have been some studies on how exploring for gas on land impacts residents at the local level, but less is known about how offshore drilling would affect Rhode Island.

"It’s such a beautiful state that we live in and we know that people get a lot of value out of visiting our shores and beaches and parks, but how much is that number? We don’t know," she said. 

Barrage said additional research needs to be done to understand how drilling for oil and gas in coastal waters could affect local carbon emissions. 

Barrage also added although renewable energy is growing, there is not enough of it yet to meet the current energy demand.

"Fossil fuels remain a critical reliable source of energy that’s fueling the global economy, of course renewables are the future and will have to be the future, but right now we all use fossil fuels," she said. 

Listen to the conversation above to hear more about the potential environmental and economic impacts of offshore drilling.