Wednesday, August 13, 2014

37 House Democrats Urge Administration Against Atlantic Drilling

We elected the candidate with the "Drill, Baby, Drill!" slogan, right? No? Well, "all of the above" isn't that much different:
All signs point toward the administration giving the thumbs up to Atlantic drilling. In June, the administration gave its strongest signal to date that the Atlantic would likely be included in the Interior Department's five-year lease plan for 2017-2022, by opening it up to new oil and gas exploration for the first time in 30 years.
That decision followed the Interior Department’s release of an environmental review in February, setting guidelines for seismic surveys to test Atlantic waters for potential energy sources.
"It does not look good because, if he weren’t going to allow drilling, then he wouldn’t have opened the Atlantic to seismic tests," said Sara Young, a marine scientist for Oceana, a conservation group.
Geophysical research companies contracted by the oil and gas industry will need to apply for individual permits before conducting tests in the Atlantic for oil and gas deposits, and undergo further environmental reviews, but the decision was a clear victory for industry.
Last week, Representatives David Price (NC-04), Rush Holt (NJ-12), Niki Tsongas (MA-03), and Gerry Connolly (VA-11) led 32 other colleagues in the House in writing to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in opposition to Atlantic drilling.

Here is the text of the letter:
Dear Dr. Cruickshank:
We are writing in response to the initial Request for Information on the preparation of the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (Five-Year Program). As members of Congress with an interest in the health and economic vitality of the Atlantic Ocean, we would like to specifically request that all planning areas in the Atlantic be excluded from the 2017-2022 Five-Year Leasing Program.
Under the current 2012-2017 Five-Year Program the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) determined that lease sales in the Atlantic would not be appropriate due to the lack of infrastructure to support oil and gas exploration and development, as well as spill preparedness and response. Complex issues relating to potentially conflicting uses, including those of the Department of Defense, were also factors in making the determination under the current Five-Year Program.
We believe that the circumstances that informed the exclusion of Atlantic planning areas under the existing Five-Year Program remain unchanged. Additionally, significant federal, state, and local resources have been expended in an effort to improve the health of Atlantic fisheries, protect endangered and threatened species that rely on the Atlantic Ocean and coast, and ensure the continued economic vitality of coastal areas through recreation and tourism. We believe that allowing oil and gas development in the Atlantic would be inconsistent with and contrary to these ongoing efforts.
We are not opposed to offshore energy development in the Atlantic when that development is done carefully, sustainably, and protects critical coastal and marine environments and industries. We commend BOEM for its effort to lease and permit offshore wind energy projects along the Atlantic seaboard. The development of wind energy resources in the Atlantic will support jobs, generate revenues, and provide much needed clean, sustainable energy without threatening existing jobs and economic activity that would be endangered by oil and gas activities in the Atlantic. Advances in tidal and marine hydrokinetic power may similarly provide opportunities to harvest the energy potential of our oceans without subjecting our coasts and the marine environment to the threats associated with offshore oil and gas production.
Furthermore, climate change and ocean acidification have already begun to stress the Atlantic environment and ecosystem. Sea level rise and extreme weather events, exacerbated by warmer air and ocean temperatures, already threaten coastal communities. The massive destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy emphasized these risks and demonstrated the fragility of our coasts. We appreciate the work that BOEM has done to help our communities rebuild, but are concerned that these rebuilding efforts could be severely undermined by offshore oil and gas leasing. The Atlantic Ocean and the individuals that depend on this area, whether for their livelihoods or as recreational users, should not also be forced to contend with the threats of a major oil spill, or for that matter the widespread industrial development that would be necessary for developing an oil and gas industry in the Atlantic.
While states bordering the North Atlantic Planning Area are united in their opposition to offshore oil and gas drilling, we understand that elsewhere in the Atlantic there is likely to be interest in proceeding with oil and gas exploration and development. We believe that an analysis of drilling in the Atlantic should be holistic: ocean currents and marine species do not recognize artificially drawn planning boundaries, and the consideration of any individual Atlantic planning area should also include an analysis of the potential effects on neighboring planning areas and throughout the entire ocean ecosystem.
We appreciate the efforts of the Department of the Interior to improve the safety and oversight of offshore drilling, but we are simply unwilling to accept the tremendous risks of an oil spill in the Atlantic, which would vastly outweigh any potential gains from drilling. We again thank you for excluding Atlantic leasing from the 2012-2017 program and ask that you consider our strong opposition to future leasing in the Atlantic through all stages of development of the 2017-2022 Five-Year Program.

Here are the 37 total co-signers, organized by state:
Connecticut Delegation

Rosa DeLauro (CT-03)

Delaware Delegation
John Carney

District of Columbia Delegation
Eleanor Holmes Norton

Florida Delegation

Corinne Brown (FL-05)
Kathy Castor (FL-14)
Alcee Hastings (FL-20)
Ted Deutch (FL-21)
Lois Frankel (FL-22)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23)

Maine Delegation
Chellie Pingree (ME-01)
Mike Michaud (ME-02)

Maryland Delegation
John Sarbanes (MD-03)
Chris Van Hollen (MD-08)

Massachusetts Delegation
Richard Neal (MA-01)
Jim McGovern (MA-02)
Niki Tsongas (MA-03)
Joe Kennedy (MA-04)
Katherine Clark (MA-05)
John Tierney (MA-06)
Mike Capuano (MA-07)
Stephen Lynch (MA-08)
Bill Keating (MA-09)

New Hampshire Delegation

Annie Kuster (NH-02)
Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01)

New Jersey Delegation

Frank Pallone (NJ-06)
Albio Sires (NJ-08)
Bill Pascrell (NJ-09)
Rush Holt (NJ-12)

New York Delegation
Grace Meng (NY-06)
Paul Tonko (NY-20)

North Carolina Delegation
David Price (NC-04)

Rhode Island Delegation
David Cicilline (RI-01)
Jim Langevin (RI-02)

Virginia Delegation
Bobby Scott (VA-03)
Jim Moran (VA-08)
Gerry Connolly (VA-11)

As you can see, it had the support of the full Congressional delegations of Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. It also had the support of all members of the Democratic delegation from Virginia.

Most, but not all, of the co-signers represent coastal districts.

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