Connecticut residents rally to oppose new offshore drilling plan
Below is a press release sent by Connecticut Sierra Club
In Hartford on Tuesday, Feb. 13, Connecticut residents rallied loudly to express opposition to a federal proposal that would open up 90% of the nation’s coastline — including all of Connecticut’s shores — to oil and gas drilling. The proposal, issued by the Department of Interior earlier this year, threatens a tourism and recreation economy that in 2016, contributed 1.7 billion to the State’s ocean GDP. The proposal has been met with steep opposition from Connecticut’s elected leaders, as well as the business and conservation communities.
The Trump administration’s controversial plan to expose America’s waters to the risk of offshore drilling and exploration, and not afford an opportunity for citizens to give testimony in a public hearing has attracted widespread criticism across Connecticut.
The CT League of Conservation Voters, Connecticut Sierra Club and Surfrider Foundation hosted a rally outside of the BOEM meeting, and then entered the meeting to participate as a large group of unified opposition. What’s at stake in Connecticut? “Recreation and tourism is the heart of Connecticut’s ocean economy,” said Melissa Gates, Northeast Regional Manager of the Surfrider Foundation. “Not only would drilling and exploration for offshore oil and gas resources devastate the marine ecosystem, but it would also destroy our economy, and our coastal communities. Even a small spill could shut down the state’s beaches, which would have significant negative impacts across the board. Over 72% of the state’s ocean economy employment were in coastal tourism & recreation, constituting nearly 53% of the state’s ocean GDP, and the state’s direct ocean economy generated $4.4 billion in GDP. Including Connecticut in BOEM’s offshore lease plan is a terrible idea in every way, with unacceptable risks.”
Connecticut Governor Malloy joins all but two of America’s coastal Governors in opposing the plan to expand offshore drilling. In a statement released on the heels of the January 4, 2018 decision, Malloy stated: “This is yet another disgraceful and unnecessary action from an administration that has taken us light years backward in the fight against climate change. It stands only to hurt Connecticut’s economy, our natural resources, and our coastal communities. We need a federal government that will stand up and protect our environment. Sadly, this president has once again put special interests before people.”
The proposed drilling plan unveiled recently by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke would drastically expand offshore drilling in new areas of the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico — including the Eastern Gulf, and Alaska waters, and auction off permanently protected areas.
With the backing of science, economics, clean energy leaders, local businesses, and the vast majority of Americans, the Obama administration permanently protected most of the Arctic Ocean and a chain of deep sea canyons in the Atlantic Ocean, stretching from the Chesapeake Bay to Canada’s border, from dangerous and destructive offshore oil drilling. The entire Arctic and Atlantic was also removed from Obama’s five-year leasing plan, which the Trump administration has since scrapped, wasting taxpayer dollars and agency official’s time in restarting what is projected to be another two-year draft plan proposal process for Trump’s new five-year OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program.
“These unprecedented federal assaults on our air, land, water and climate are stirring citizens from all over the nation to push back against these new threats,” said CT League of Conservation Voters director, Lori Brown. “Voters have sprung up in a wide variety of grassroots organization and there has been an amazing growth in numbers of people at the community level who are stepping up to get involved. We must redouble our efforts, engage new voices in this fight, and most importantly, get people elected in Connecticut who will stand up to the Trump administration anti-environment agenda.”
Americans are turning out in large numbers across the U.S. already to reject the Trump administration’s move to expand dirty and dangerous offshore drilling and energy exploration. That opposition includes tens of thousands of local businesses and hundreds of thousands of commercial fishing families that depend on clean coasts, the majority of Americans, more than 150 coastal municipalities, many Alaska Natives, bipartisan lawmakers at the local, state and federal levels, and a host of faith and conservation leaders.
For more details, visit boem.gov/National-Program-Participate/#meeting.
The public can submit comments on BOEM’s Draft Proposed 2019-2024 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program at regulations.gov/document?D=BOEM-2017-0074-0001.
Why are Connecticut citizens opposed to offshore drilling?
- The expansion of offshore oil drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific, Eastern Gulf of Mexico, and Arctic Ocean would cause enormous and unnecessary negative impacts to our nation’s marine ecosystems, coastal communities, and vital recreation and tourism industries.
- Offshore oil and gas development in new areas would require seismic surveys, drilling operations, oil transport by tankers, and the installation of platforms, pipelines, and other infrastructure. Collectively these activities would significantly damage the environment, marine wildlife, and coastal economies and ways of life.
- Industries that rely upon a healthy marine ecosystem, including tourism and recreation, generate billions of dollars for coastal states and the nation as a whole. Coastal recreation and tourism accounts for 83% of establishments and 71% of employment opportunities for coastal communities in the United States.
- A spill could cause catastrophic impacts to these coastal communities, a truth we should have learned from previous spills in other areas that have had long-lasting impacts on local tourism rates, with major disasters resulting in 25% of small businesses unable to re-open.