Marine Mammal Commission

Offshore Energy Development

Oil platform located 10 km off the coast of central California near Point Conception near gray whale migration route image

Oil platform located 10 km off the coast of central California near Point Conception near gray whale migration route. (NASA)

Worldwide demand for energy from all sources is increasing, and a significant portion of that energy comes from the marine environment. The development of offshore energy resources can impact various components of the marine environment, but our understanding of those impacts and our ability to mitigate them effectively to prevent harm to marine mammals has not kept pace with advances in energy development. Reducing our dependence on foreign energy sources is a critical goal for the United States, but in achieving that goal we must ensure that adequate safeguards are in place to protect a rapidly changing environment that is subject to increasing stressors.

The Marine Mammal Commission’s Offshore Energy website provides information on the status of both conventional oil and gas and renewable energy development activities in U.S. federal waters, also referred to as the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. The website also summarizes impacts associated with various stages of energy development, actions being taken to mitigate those impacts, and ongoing research and monitoring activities.

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Oil and Gas Development

Renewable Energy Development

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico

For additional information on offshore energy development and impacts on marine mammals, see the Commission’s 2010–2011 annual report and 2012 annual report.