Assateague Coastal Trust Opposes Trump Administration's Offshore - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Assateague Coastal Trust Opposes Trump Administration's Offshore Drilling Plan

Posted: Jan 05, 2018 1:09 PM Updated:

BERLIN, Md. - Assateague Coastal Trust says it opposes the draft plan that would add additional areas for offshore drilling in U.S. waters, including areas off the Delmarva Coast.

The plan proposes opening sections of the Atlantic 3 miles off the coast and stretching from Maine to Florida beginning in 2019. In addition to areas of the Atlantic, the plan also proposes opening new areas of the Gulf of Mexico as well as portions of the Pacific and Arctic oceans as well.

The new five-year plan was drafted in response to an executive order signed by the Trump Administration in April that sought to re-write an offshore drilling plan finalized in the final year of the Obama Administration.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said it would promote responsible energy development, boost jobs and pay for coastal conservation efforts. The plan proposes 47 leases that Zinke said would open up 90 percent for U.S. offshore reserves to development by private companies.

In July of 2017, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he opposed drilling off the coast and expressed concern about the impacts oil and gas development would have on tourism, commercial fishing, and the environment.

The American Petroleum Institute support the plan saying the opportunities will lead to a stronger U.S. economy, more jobs, and energy independence.

Matt Heim, Outreach Director for the Assateague Coastal Trust, noted the Department of Interior estimates only about 4% of U.S. oil reserves are located in Atlantic waters which equates to about a 6 month supply of oil. “If you look at the estimated oil reserves and compare that to the amount of production the American Petroleum Institute is estimating in the Atlantic,” said Heim, “all of the oil would be depleted in about 20 years. Is it worth putting our local economy and environment at risk for an industry that will be gone in 20 years?”

Rich King of Delaware Surf Fishing said, “My main concern is the migratory patterns of fish being thrown off. Disruptive construction practices and seismic testing will heavily impact fishing, which is a major industry for our coast. Obviously, a spill like Deepwater Horizon would be devastating, but even a small spill would have huge implications. It is not worth the risk in my opinion.”

The release of this draft is the first step towards finalizing a new offshore plan. The draft is currently open to public comment and the Department of Interior will host several public meetings about the proposal before the comment period ends, with the first meeting to be held on January 17 in Annapolis, MD. 

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