Today, Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam sent a letter to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) requesting that Virginia be excluded from the next version of the Obama administration’s offshore drilling plan.
Oceana applauded the Lieutenant Governor and released the following statement from campaign director Claire Douglass:
“Lt. Gov. Northam has been a steadfast ally to the tourism and coastal business community in Virginia, and his letter to BOEM reflects his strong, sensible leadership on offshore drilling. We hope that the Obama administration heeds his request to remove Virginia from the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program.
Lt. Gov. Northam knows that offshore drilling will harm Virginia’s economy and place a disproportionate amount of risk on residents of the state, especially those on the coast who depend on a healthy ocean for their livelihoods. Oyster farmers, fishermen, hoteliers, business leaders, local elected officials, including the entire Board of Commissioners representing Accomack County, and thousands of coastal residents have made their voices clear: offshore drilling is not the right answer for Virginia.
As the window to affect the next step in the decision process nears, constituents from across the state continue to meet with elected officials, including Gov. McAuliffe, to demand their concerns are heard and ask them to oppose offshore drilling exploration and development. Despite the groundswell of opposition, the Governor continues to actively advocate for offshore drilling as part of the Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition, a group spearheaded and run by a corporate lobbying and public relations firm representing some of the largest energy interests.
Oceana applauds Lt. Gov. Northam for taking a stand to protect Virginia from offshore drilling. Unlike Gov. McAuliffe, Lt. Gov. Northam is standing up for the people he represents. Lt. Gov. Northam, alongside the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging, and Travel Association; Garden Club of Virginia; the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council; and countless other groups, are standing united to protect our coast today and for future generations. President Obama and BOEM should listen to Lt. Gov. Northam, who, unlike Gov. McAuliffe, is representing the people of Virginia.”
Currently, the Obama administration is considering opening a large swath of the Atlantic to offshore drilling, spanning from Virginia to Georgia. At the same time, the federal government is considering the use of seismic airguns to search for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean floor in an area twice the size of California, stretching all the way from Delaware to Florida.
Coastal opposition to these activities continues to mount. As of today, 107 East Coast municipalities, 101 Members of Congress, more than 700 state and local elected officials and roughly 1,100 business interests have all publically opposed offshore drilling and/or seismic airgun blasting, citing threats to marine life, coastal communities and local economies. Along the Atlantic coast, nearly 1.4 million jobs and over $95 billion in gross domestic product rely on healthy ocean ecosystems, mainly through fishing, tourism and recreation.
To watch Oceana’s short video about the growing opposition to Atlantic drilling, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfugAV7BWoE.
For more information, please visit www.StopTheDrill.org.