Virginia House of Delegates Passes Bill Banning Offshore Drilling - Oceana USA

Virginia House of Delegates Passes Bill Banning Offshore Drilling

Legislation would protect Virginia’s coastal waters

Press Release Date: February 4, 2020

Location: RICHMOND, Va.


Dustin Cranor, APR | email: | tel: 954.348.1314


The Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill (H.B. 706) Tuesday that would ban oil and gas drilling and related infrastructure in Virginia’s coastal waters.

The legislation, introduced by Delegate Mark Keam (D-Vienna), also removes previous state support from any federal efforts to permit offshore oil drilling or exploration. Offshore drilling threatens more 86,000 jobs and $4.8 billion in GDP generated from fishing, tourism and recreation along Virginia’s 3,300 mile coastline.

Oceana applauds Keam, his co-patron Delegate Nancy Guy (D-Virginia Beach) and the Virginia House for their efforts to protect their coast. This action builds on opposition to offshore drilling in the state. Last week, the Virginia Senate passed a companion bill (S.B. 795). Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has also voiced opposition to drilling off Virginia’s coast.

“This move by Virginia’s elected leaders reflects years of mounting pressure from community leaders, local businesses, and advocates across the state who continue to fight for protections for our coast and the Chesapeake Bay,” said Caroline Wood, Oceana’s field campaigns manager. “We look forward to Gov. Northam signing this bill into law, enacting these protections and sending a strong message that President Trump’s plan to expand drilling is not welcome in Virginia.”

The Trump administration has proposed expanding offshore drilling to nearly all federal waters, including the Atlantic Ocean. While states may not have the authority to prevent drilling in federal waters, a ban on infrastructure in state waters creates a strong deterrent for companies wishing to drill off Virginia’s coast.

California, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Maryland and NewJersey have already enacted various laws to block new offshore drilling. 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 50,000 businesses, 500,000 fishing families
  • New England, South and Mid-Atlantic fishery management councils
  • 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.

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 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. Visit to learn more.