Updated September 28 at 1:30pm:
On Friday, not far from Virginia’s Atlantic Ocean beaches, President Trump added Virginia and North Carolina to a 10-year offshore drilling moratorium previously put in place for Georgia, the Carolinas and Florida. But it was a verbal addendum in his speech that shows why SELC and our partners are not celebrating these announcements.
“I am extending the moratorium to North Carolina and Virginia,” President Trump told a crowd assembled in Newport News. “And if you want to have oil rigs out there just let me know, we’ll take it off.”
These sudden policy reversals, and the flexibility in them, is why SELC Senior Attorney Sierra Weaver previously urged our partners and coastal communities to remain vigilant in the fight to protect our coast.
“These statements about possible policy reversals unfortunately do not inspire a lot of confidence about the long-term protection of our coast,” says Weaver, the leader of SELC's defense against offshore drilling. “And as we keep saying, oil spills don’t know state lines.”
And just ahead of President Trump’s addition of Virginia and North Carolina to the moratorium, administration officials told a federal judge in Charleston, S.C., that they remain committed to using seismic-blasting ships to explore the bed of the Atlantic Ocean for possible oil reserves. The judge had earlier asked what effect, if any, the White House’s drilling moratoriums would have on the push for seismic blasting.
SELC has filed a lawsuit to block the seismic blasting. Seismic deep-sea searches are a precursor to drilling.
It is not known whether the White House will continue to expand the drilling moratorium. But what is clear, Weaver said, is that no coast is safe until drilling is permanently banned in the Atlantic Ocean.
As previously reported:
A dizzying array of offshore drilling statements in the past two days about what sections of the Atlantic Ocean were being exempted from oil exploration and what parts are not have sown unnecessary uncertainty into what should be a clear process.
“These statements about possible policy reversals unfortunately do not inspire a lot of confidence about the long-term protection of our coast,” says Sierra Weaver, a senior attorney and leader of SELC's defense against offshore drilling. “And as we keep saying, oil spills don’t know state lines. Whether it’s an arbitrary line at South Carolina or an arbitrary line at North Carolina, it’s not the protection that the entire Atlantic coast needs and deserves.”
Several media outlets are reporting that the Trump administration has told some North Carolina leaders it will add North Carolina to the list of drilling exemptions. But those same outlets noted that the White House hasn’t confirmed that.
Previously, the Trump administration issued an executive order removing Florida, Georgia and South Carolina from offshore drilling consideration for 10 years, reversing course on a pledge to open the entire Atlantic Coast to petroleum companies.
Several Virginia leaders have also asked for the Virginia to be removed from the Trump administration’s drilling plans. However, the news outlets reporting the request have not indicated whether the White House will agree.
“Oil spills don’t know state lines. Whether it’s an arbitrary line at South Carolina or an arbitrary line at North Carolina, it’s not the protection that the entire Atlantic coast needs and deserves.”
—Sierra Weaver, Senior Attorney