Bill Would Protect Ocean and Coastal Resources Responsible for Over $17.5 Billion Annually in New England
WASHINGTON – Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) helped introduce bipartisan legislation with a group of their fellow New England Senators to bar offshore drilling along the New England coast. The New England Coastal Protection Act responds to a move by the Trump administration to open up Atlantic waters to offshore oil and natural gas exploration and extraction, putting vital coastline at risk and threatening a central economic engine for New England.
The legislation, led by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), was also cosponsored by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
“New Hampshire has eighteen miles of coastline – eighteen miles of homes, small businesses and wildlife that will be threatened by offshore drilling because of the Trump administration’s actions,” said Senator Shaheen. “This isn’t a theoretical threat. Too many American communities have experienced the economic and environmental devastation that comes from oil spills. We can’t afford that kind of risk to our Seacoast communities that heavily rely on tourism. The Trump administration needs to stop playing politics with offshore drilling and do what’s right for New Hampshire’s Seacoast. I’m glad to stand with the New England delegation to support a ban on offshore drilling.”
“Our coastal communities in New Hampshire are critical to our economy and our environment, and we must do everything that we can to protect them,” Senator Hassan said. “Offshore drilling has caused some of the greatest man-made natural disasters of our time, and we cannot open up our New England coastline to such potential destruction. I am proud to join this bipartisan bill to prevent that from happening and to let the Trump Administration know that our coast is off limits.”
Last week, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the Trump administration would expand offshore oil and gas leasing to encompass around 90 percent of the United States’ coastlines. Governors from both parties alike have denounced the administration’s actions, citing the severe economic and environmental effects drilling will have on their states. After a meeting between Secretary Zinke and Florida Governor Rick Scott, the administration indicated it would exempt Florida’s coastline from the new leasing proposal, raising serious legal questions and triggering allegations of favoritism by the administration.
According to the Conservation Law Foundation, ocean and coastal industries, including tourism, fishing, and recreation, generate more than $17.5 billion in New England annually. Expanding drilling in the Atlantic would harm New England’s vital industries, and significantly increase the chances of environmental disaster in the region.