City of Washington, D.C., says 'no' to offshore drilling

Advocacy group Oceana praises growing number of regional leaders expressing opposition.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Feb. 3, 2016 at 6:36 AM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Advocacy group Oceana said it welcomed Washington, D.C., to a growing list of local governments expressing opposition to drilling in the Atlantic Ocean.

The city council in the nation's capital voted unanimously on a measure expressing opposition to drilling and seismic activity in the Atlantic Ocean, joining other regional metropolitan areas like Baltimore and Charleston, S.C.

Claire Douglass, a campaign director for Oceana, said the White House is considering opening up Atlantic basins to offshore drillers, a move she said runs in contrast to federal commitments to advance a low-carbon economy.

"President [Barack] Obama's proposal, which would allow offshore oil rigs off the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, is a clear step backwards for our nation and puts our most vulnerable citizens at even greater risk from the impacts of climate change," she said in an emailed statement.

Oceana representatives in December joined coastal leaders in calling on the White House to keep the area off limits. The group estimated around 1.4 million jobs and $95 billion in gross domestic product may depend on fishing, tourism and recreation along the Atlantic coast. Those benefits may be at risk if drilling proceeds, it said.

The Obama administration is reviewing a leasing program through 2022 that would include portions of the Atlantic Ocean, areas that have sat idle since the 1980s. The National Ocean Industries Association, an industry group lobbying for more offshore work, said about 1.34 million barrels of oil equivalent per day could be produced from the Atlantic basin by 2035, arguing those reserves could be part of a balanced energy portfolio.

During the weekend, Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., joined Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., in calling for preservation efforts along the New Jersey shore.

"Let's call Atlantic drilling what it is: another handout to the oil industry," Menendez said in a statement. "Oil companies don't need another gift from the federal government."

The first offshore commercial wind farms in the United States are slated for development in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Rhode Island.

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