Public News Service
January 5, 2018
Opponents say they are worried about the impact a big spill from offshore oil drilling could have on the Virginia coast. (BAPAC)
RICHMOND, Va. – Opposition to Trump administration offshore-drilling plans looks substantial along the Atlantic Coast, including Virginia.
The Interior Department has just announced it’s moving ahead with a five-year plan to allow exploration and drilling. Opponents point to more than $8 billion in Virginia tourism, fishing and other businesses dependent on clean waters.
Virginia Beach restaurant owner Laura Wood Habr was one of the founders of the Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast.
“We can’t find anybody that supports it along the Atlantic Coast,” she says. “We have just not been able for anyone to tell us along the coastal communities, the cities, the businesses there, how that would benefit any of us.”
President Donald Trump cites the potential for domestic energy production and jobs. A connected proposal would reduce regulations put in place after the massive 2010 Gulf oil spill.
In the last three years, more than 140 coastal communities have said they oppose offshore drilling.
No federal waters have been leased for exploration or drilling in more than three decades. If the current plan goes forward, it will be the biggest oil and gas lease sale ever.
Steve Mashuda, the managing attorney for oceans at Earthjustice says people should send in comments or show up at a series of planned public meetings.
“It’s very important that people stand up, let their voices be heard, let the administration know that we’re not willing to sacrifice our oceans for big oil,” he explains.
Mashuda says the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 people and caused huge economic and ecological damage is a classic example of what could go wrong.
“We saw it in the Gulf,” he adds. “People don’t want that. Business owners don’t want that. Fisherman don’t want that. And so there’s really a large and bipartisan opposition to drilling for oil in these biologically rich waters.”
Dan Heyman, Public News Service – VA