House Votes to Protect Coasts from New Offshore Drilling and Seismic Airgun Blasting
Oceana applauds House lawmakers for standing up for coastal communities, businesses and marine life that depend on a clean and healthy ocean.
Press Release Date: July 24, 2020
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that, if enacted, would block the expansion of offshore oil drilling activities in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Ocean as well as the Eastern Gulf of Mexico for fiscal year 2021. The FY21 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies funding bill, would also block funding for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) from conducting or authorizing oil and gas related activities, including issuing of permits for seismic airgun blasting.
This legislation would halt Trump administration efforts to drastically expand offshore drilling to new areas. In 2018, President Trump announced plans to open nearly all U.S. federal waters to offshore drilling in his draft five-year program for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Recent statements affirm the administration’s continued interest in expanding drilling. In March, Dr. Walter Cruickshank, the acting director for Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, testified before Congress that the drilling plan is a “multi-year process that is still underway.” The White House also recently issued a proclamation on National Ocean Month, in which the president touted an “enormous opportunity” to expand the industry offshore . Politico also recently reported that, “the Trump administration is preparing to open the door to oil and gas drilling off Florida’s coast — but will wait until after the November election.”
“Recent reporting, statements from administration officials and President Trump’s own statements make it alarmingly clear – absent congressional action – the president intends to radically expand offshore drilling. Today’s action by U.S. House of Representatives to block offshore drilling underscores the overwhelming opposition to dirty and dangerous offshore drilling. President Trump’s plan to expand offshore drilling to nearly all U.S. waters is completely at odds with the interests of coastal communities that have the most to lose from drilling disasters. The president has not wavered in his efforts to expand drilling at a time when the last thing our coastal communities and their economies need is the added threat of a drilling disaster,” said Oceana Campaign Director Diane Hoskins.
“This legislation is an important step toward stopping the president’s plans and protecting those who rely on a clean and healthy ocean. We applaud House members for working to protect our coasts from new dirty and dangerous drilling,” she added. “For nearly three decades, Congress blocked offshore drilling through similar funding measures. We’re counting on Congress to once again enact a moratorium on new offshore drilling.”
For decades, Congress upheld offshore drilling moratoriums through federal funding bills. Following the House’s passage of the bill, it is the Senate’s turn to protect the eastern Gulf, Atlantic and Pacific coasts from expanded offshore drilling activities. Offshore drilling brings with it the risk of toxic oil spills and unsightly infrastructure that can upend coastal communities. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, clean coastal economies supported more than 2.6 million jobs and $180 billion in GDP from tourism, recreation and fishing along the Atlantic, Pacific and eastern Gulf of Mexico, which would be threatened by expanded drilling.
Opposition to new drilling includes every East and West Coast governor, alliances totaling more than 56,000 businesses and more than 380 coastal communities. More than 120 marine scientists and 80 military leaders have also spoken out in letters to Congress and the White House opposing drilling, citing the environmental and national security threat expanded drilling poses.
As of today, opposition and concern over efforts to radically expand offshore drilling activities in U.S. waters includes:
- Every single East and West Coast governor, including Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, California, Oregon and Washington
- More than 380 East and West Coast municipalities
- Over 2,300 local, state and federal bipartisan officials
- East and West Coast alliances representing over 56,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families
- New England, South and Mid-Atlantic fishery management councils
- More than 120 scientists
- More than 80 former military leaders
- Commercial and recreational fishing interests such as Southeastern Fisheries Association, Snook and Gamefish Foundation, Fisheries Survival Fund, Southern Shrimp Alliance, Billfish Foundation and International Game Fish Association
- California Coastal Commission, California Fish and Game Commission and California State Lands Commission
- Department of Defense, NASA, U.S. Air Force and Florida Defense Support Task Force
- A complete list opposition can be found here.
To learn more about Oceana’s efforts to stop the expansion of offshore drilling, please visit www.stopthedrill.org
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 more than 225 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit www.usa.oceana.org to learn more.