WASHINGTON – Pushing back on the Trump plan for risky oil and gas drilling off the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland’s coastline, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, with Representatives Steny H. Hoyer, Elijah E. Cummings, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, John K. Delaney, Anthony G. Brown and Jamie Raskin (all D-Md.), have sent formal comments to the U.S. Department of the Interior and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in strong opposition to the plan that would open up coasts nationwide to oil and gas exploration.
On January 4, 2018, the Interior Department announced a Draft Proposed Program for Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leasing for 2019-2024, which would replace the Obama Administration’s current leasing plan for 2017-2027 that left the Mid-Atlantic Coastline free from such new activity. The Trump plan looks to open all areas of the country’s coast to offshore drilling.
“Maryland’s inclusion in the draft proposal is heavily opposed in our state, as it threatens the livelihood of countless businesses and communities with significant interests in our fisheries and tourism industries,” the lawmakers wrote.
“Should oil and gas development be permitted in these waters, a potential oil spill could do untold harm to our fisheries, tourism industry, and environment … We believe that when you have had a chance to consider the consequences of this proposal on our military, the State’s economy, and the environment, you will reach a similar conclusion.”
The lawmakers urge other Marylanders to submit their comments before March 9 deadline. Interior Secretary Zinke specifically said that he would take “into consideration the local and state voice” when finalizing plans for off-shore drilling.
The full letter can be found at this link and below. Comments to BOEM can be submitted at this link through March 9, 2018.
February 27, 2018
The Honorable Ryan Zinke
Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street
Washington, DC 20240
Dr. Walter Cruikshank
Acting Director, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240
Dear Secretary Zinke and Dr. Cruikshank:
We write in strong opposition to the Department of the Interior’s National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2019-2024, announced on January 4, 2018. The draft proposal would allow lease sales for offshore oil and gas drilling for over ninety-percent of the Outer Continental Shelf, including the Mid-Atlantic region. We request that Maryland be exempted from any new oil and gas leases as the Department takes steps to finalize the Plan.
Maryland’s inclusion in the draft proposal is heavily opposed in our state, as it threatens the livelihood of countless businesses and communities with significant interests in our fisheries and tourism industries. Furthermore, oil and gas development in the Mid-Atlantic region is opposed by our military, as they have found it threatens military readiness maneuvers and could interfere with missile tests the Navy relies on to protect our coasts. The NASA Wallops Flight Facility located on the Eastern Shore, which supports a burgeoning commercial space industry in our region, has expressed similar concerns that oil and gas development in these waters could undermine aerospace test activities, resupply missions to the International Space Station, and other future commercial space flight activities.
Should oil and gas development be permitted in these waters, a potential oil spill could do untold harm to our fisheries, tourism industry, and environment. Indeed, confidence in the Department’s ability to assure our constituents that oil and gas development in these waters can be done safely and responsibly was drastically undermined when you rolled back reasoned safeguards put in place following the Deepwater Horizon spill in April 2010, which cost the lives of eleven workers and did lasting damage to the fisheries and ecosystems of the Gulf Coast.
As you know, commercial oil and gas development in the Mid-Atlantic region has been proposed and defeated previously for many of the same reasons outlined above. We believe that when you have had a chance to consider the consequences of this proposal on our military, the State’s economy, and the environment, you will reach a similar conclusion.
For all of these reasons, we urge you to consider the voices of our constituents and their elected representatives and remove Maryland from the five-year plan.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.