WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Ben Cardin, a senior member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.), along with Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and nine Senate colleagues today pushed the Obama administration’s Interior Department to protect the Atlantic coast from new offshore oil drilling that could ruin hundreds of miles of coastline from a BP-like spill. The recently released draft five-year offshore drilling program proposes holding an oil drilling lease sale off the coasts of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia as soon as 2021.
In a letter sent to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, the Senators make these main arguments against opening up the coast the drilling:
- Oil spills do not respect state borders. The BP Deepwater Horizon spill oiled more than 1,100 miles of coastline.
- The draft plan proposes a 50 mile buffer, yet the BP well was 49 miles off the coast of Louisiana.
- Oil companies already hold 24 million acres of offshore public land on which they are not producing oil or natural gas. 83 percent of offshore lands in the Gulf of Mexico are not yet producing, equal to about the size of Kentucky.
- The Interior Department has not even finished its review process for seismic testing in the Atlantic, even though such testing is harmful to marine life and the environment.
“Offshore drilling anywhere in the Atlantic has the potential to adversely impact our states’ fishing, tourism and recreation industries, our coastlines and our environment,” write the Senators. “These industries that rely on a healthy coastal ecosystem generate billions of dollars a year in economic activity for our states and would be severely threatened by offshore drilling anywhere in the Atlantic. As you finalize the 2017-2022 Five-Year OCS Drilling Program we urge you to protect our states’ economies and environment by eliminating any proposed oil and gas leasing offshore in the Atlantic.”
The letter, which can be found HERE, was signed by Senators Cardin (D-Md.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Bill Nelson (D-Fl.).
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