June 20, 2017
By Chenue Her
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) — It was an 8-0 vote by the Virginia Beach city council to strike down offshore drilling off the coast and gas exploration, including seismic testing.
Councilwomen Shannon Kane and Jessica Abbott weren’t at the meeting, so neither voted. Councilman John Moss abstained from voting, citing a possible conflict of interest because he’s employed by the Department of Defense.
This vote is crucial for those who oppose it, after they said the Trump administration has considered reversing a previous decision that makes Atlantic waters off limits to drilling.
“We’re very proud of the city council for taking this stand. We’ve worked really hard in Virginia Beach to clean up our water ways, protect our beaches, and there’s just too much at risk,” said Karen Forget, Executive Director of Lynnhaven River NOW.
Forget says this decision is huge not just for the waters, but many other aspects of the city.
“We feel all around this isn’t good for tourism, it’s not good for the importance of the military in the area, our economy,” she said.
“The seismic testing part of that, we know that kind of testing environment provides a great impact to marine mammals and a lot of other species as well,” said Mark Swingle, the Director of Research and Conservation at the Virginia Aquarium and Science Center.
The city said the tourism industry brings about $1.4 billion in every year and opponents of drilling think any sort of disaster could cripple that.
Retired Navy Captain Joe Bouchard said potential mistakes could hurt the military as well.
“The training out there would be impacted. The test and evaluation of new weapons and tactics could be impacted. Huge safety concerns,” he told 13News Now.
Any position the council makes will be a recommendation to President Trump.
He’ll make the final decision.
In 2010, council adopted a resolution supporting offshore oil and gas exploration.
Five years later, oceanfront businesses urged council to change its position on drilling, so city council repealed the ordinance.
In 2016, the “Resort Advisory Commission” asked city council to go against seismic testing.