Business leaders, local officials and state lawmakers are on Capitol Hill today urging Congress to enact offshore drilling protections in the fiscal year 2020 Interior-Environment funding bill. The delegation from 13 East and West Coast states is highlighting the bipartisan opposition to expanded offshore drilling and exploration, as well as the risks posed to coastal economies.
For decades, Congress upheld offshore drilling moratoriums through the Interior-Environment funding bill. While the Trump administration delayed plans to expand offshore drilling to new areas, the January 2018 proposal to open over 90 percent of federal waters to offshore drilling remains on the table.
“President Trump’s radical offshore drilling plan is still a threat to nearly all coastal communities,” said Oceana campaign director Diane Hoskins. “There’s nearly three decades of precedent for Congress enacting offshore drilling protections through the annual funding process. Unlike many other issues facing Congress, there is bipartisan support for protecting our coasts. Our thriving fishing, tourism and recreation industries rely on a clean and healthy ocean and cannot afford the devastation that comes with offshore drilling.”
In June, U.S. House of Representatives passed three amendments to the FY20 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies funding bill (H.R. 3052) that block the expansion of offshore oil drilling activities in the Atlantic, Pacific and eastern Gulf of Mexico for fiscal year 2020. The House also voted in favor of an amendment that would block funding for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to issue permits for seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic Ocean.
Below are quotes from coastal leaders on Capitol Hill today asking Congress to protect their coasts from offshore drilling:
"This proposed offshore drilling plan would simply be disastrous for Florida's beaches, wildlife, and coastal economy. We're in Washington, D.C. this week to work with our legislators to ensure that our coast is protected, and oil rigs don't come one inch closer to our award-winning white beaches," said Robin Miller, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce and chairwoman of the Florida Gulf Coast Business Coalition.
"Business owners along California’s coast are concerned about the Trump Administration’s drilling plan. We know firsthand how important our coastal communities are to the Pacific economy,” said Vipe Desai, founding member of the Business Alliance for Protecting the Pacific Coast and CEO of HDX Mix. “Members of Congress have already taken action and now we’re counting on Speaker Pelosi to ensure protections are enacted this year. The Business Alliance for Protecting the Pacific Coast is committed to working with our elected leaders in protecting our coastal economy."
“The Business Alliance Protecting the Atlantic Coast (BAPAC), representing 42,000 businesses and a half million commercial fishing families from Maine to Florida, is deeply concerned about the negative effects that seismic testing and offshore oil and gas drilling will have on our economies,” said Tom Kies, president of the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce. “Right now, our ocean waters on the Atlantic support more than 1.5 million jobs and nearly $108 billion in GDP every year. This is primarily through tourism, fishing and recreation. That is simply too much of a risk. Simply put, offshore oil and seismic testing is bad for business.”
“Coastal legislators understand that an oil spill anywhere is an oil spill everywhere. They know the economic and environmental importance of our coasts and have stood together with local communities against offshore drilling expansion,” said Jeff Mauk, executive director of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. “At a time when the federal government is rolling back environmental protections and promoting extractive industries, it is more important than ever for our state and local leaders to make their voices heard in the halls of Congress to protect their state and local economies. Their efforts demonstrate true leadership to act on issues that are impacting Americans in their daily lives.”
In early 2017, the Trump administration announced its plans to open nearly all U.S. waters to offshore drilling activities. In a draft five-year program (2019-2024) for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), the Department of the Interior (DOI) outlined its plans to expand future oil and gas leasing to nearly all U.S. waters, the largest number of potential offshore lease sales ever proposed. President Trump has also directed the administration to fast track the permitting process for seismic airgun blasting, a dangerous and extremely loud exploration process used to search for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean’s surface.
As of today, opposition and concern over efforts to radically expand offshore drilling activities in U.S. waters includes:
A complete list opposition can be found here.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one third of the world’s wild fish catch. With over 200 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that one billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. To learn more about Oceana’s work in the United States, please visit www.usa.oceana.org.