Today Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe came out against the Trump administration’s plan to consider offshore drilling in the Atlantic, including off Virginia’s coast. Gov. McAuliffe joins North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster in voicing opposition to offshore drilling. Today is the last day for governors, and all citizens, to submit comments on a federal proposal to open the Atlantic to offshore drilling and seismic blasting.
“Governor McAuliffe is yet another governor standing up for the Southeast Coast,” said Senior Attorney Sierra Weaver, leader of SELC’s Coast and Wetlands Program. “He joins communities up and down the coast, business leaders, and other elected officials in understanding that offshore drilling is a bad deal for our coast. Once again, the coast has spoken. It’s time for Washington to listen.”
This news comes after President Donald Trump signed an executive order in April reopening the issue of offshore drilling in the Atlantic, among other areas. At the same time, the Trump administration is clearing the way for offshore drilling by fast-tracking the process for approving seismic testing to identify offshore oil and gas deposits. Even before drilling is underway, seismic blasting is likely to cause significant harm to marine mammals like the endangered North Atlantic right whale and the bottlenose dolphin, as well as commercially valuable fisheries.
Almost 130 East Coast cities and towns, including Wilmington, Myrtle Beach, Charleston, and Savannah, and hundreds of businesses, trade groups, and tourism associations have passed resolutions opposing Atlantic drilling and seismic testing. Most recently, Virginia Beach and Norfolk joined the opposition, passing anti-drilling resolutions that reversed their earlier support. Republican and Democratic elected representatives at the state and federal level have voiced opposition to drilling off the Atlantic coast.
In March of 2016, the Obama Administration decided to scrap a controversial plan to open the Southeast coast to industrial oil and gas drilling for the first time, a move that would dramatically change coastal communities and jeopardize coastal economies. The Southeast coast is built around a thriving tourism industry that attracts visitors from around the world to the pristine beaches, picturesque coastal communities, and beautiful waters that could be devastated with a single major oil spill. Even without a catastrophic accident, the industrialization and infrastructure associated with drilling—the rigs, refineries, pipelines, and traffic—would irreparably change coastal communities and the thriving tourism economy.