Coastal leaders in Washington D.C. urging administration to abandon Atlantic drilling plans

This morning mayor-elect of Kure Beach, North Carolina, Emilie Swearingen, far left, was joined in the nation's capital  by coastal leaders pressing the Obama administration not to move forward with its plan to open the waters off Kure Beach and much of the Atlantic coast to offshore oil drilling and seismic testing.  (© SELC)

Today coastal leaders from Virginia to Florida are in Washington D.C. to urge the Obama administration to abandon the proposal to open the Atlantic to industrial offshore drilling for the first time in U.S. history. The visit comes in advance of an updated proposal expected in early 2016.

Opposition to the proposal continues to grow as the Department of the Interior considers opening a swath of the Atlantic from Virginia to Georgia to offshore oil drilling. As of today, 88 East Coast municipalities, more than 600 elected officials at every level of government, and more than 300 business interests have all come out publicly against the proposal, citing threats to coastal communities, local economies, and marine life. Of those 88 municipalities passing resolutions, more than 50 are in SELC’s four-state region along the Atlantic coast, including major coastal cities like Charleston, Savannah, Myrtle Beach, and Wilmington.

"Tourism is Virginia Beach's biggest economic engine and directly supported nearly 13,000 jobs in 2014,” said Laura Wood Habr, co-owner of Croc’s 19th Street Bistro and Vice President of the Virginia Beach Restaurant Association. “It seems silly to put a proven, thriving industry at risk when the threats of offshore drilling far outweigh any potential jobs or economic gain.”

Along the Atlantic coast, nearly 1.4 million jobs and over $95 billion in gross domestic product rely on healthy ocean ecosystems, primarily through tourism, fishing, and recreation.

A proposal to allow seismic airgun blasting, a process used to search for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean floor, also continues to move forward in an area stretching all the way from Delaware to Florida. In March, 75 leading marine scientists sent a letter to President Obama on the impacts of seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic, stating that “the magnitude of the proposed seismic activity is likely to have significant, long-lasting, and widespread impacts on the reproduction and survival of fish and marine mammal populations in the region.”

The evidence is clear, offshore oil drilling in the Atlantic is not worth the risk. Learn more at

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