News | March 15, 2016

Southeast spared from offshore drilling in new federal plan

In breaking news today, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management protected the Atlantic from the threat of offshore drilling by killing a controversial drilling plan for the Atlantic Ocean that could have crippled coastal economies.

“This is an incredible day for the Southeast,” said Senior Attorney Sierra Weaver. “It represents the hard work of thousands of people and protects some of our most cherished places, from the Chesapeake Bay and the Outer Banks to the South Carolina Lowcountry and Georgia barrier islands. Communities along the Atlantic have been strongly unified against this plan, and we are grateful the President listened.”

More than 100 coastal communities, including major cities like Wilmington Myrtle Beach, Charleston and Savannah, as well as coastal towns like Kure Beach, N.C. were joined by hundreds of businesses, trade groups, and tourism associations in formally adopting resolutions against offshore drilling.

“This decision reflects a host of reasons not to open the Atlantic to drilling, including the intense opposition from local communities, concerns from the Department of Defense about how drilling would impact military activities, and a different economic and energy outlook,” Weaver said. “We appreciate that the Administration took the time to hear from all sides of this issue and make the right decision.”

The plan previously under consideration proposed opening the Atlantic Ocean from Virginia through Georgia to oil and gas leasing; the plan released today includes no leases off the Southeast coast. At packed public hearings on the previous draft, opponents cited concerns about impacts industrialization and pollution would have on their homes and businesses, noting that, even without a disaster like the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, drilling could destroy what they hold dear about the Southeast coast.

Opponents also recognized that the oil industry’s promises of jobs and income were vastly inflated and unrealistic while the pipelines and rigs the industry would bring to the coast threatened the very ocean industries locals rely on, like tourism and fishing.

“This really is a story of a group of determined communities that banded together to protect their coasts and their way of life,” said Weaver. “The hero in this fight is not one person or one city or one group,” said Weaver. “It is a collection of communities and elected leaders from both parties that banded together to protect their coasts.”

Full text of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's Proposed Program for offshore leases can be viewed here.