April 27, 2017

Van Hollen, Cardin Call on Trump Administration to Protect Coastlines from Offshore Oil Drilling

As President Trump prepared to release a new executive order tomorrow that may call for opening up new areas offshore for oil exploration, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.)joined with more than two dozen senators calling on the Trump administration to protect the coastlines of the United States from offshore oil drilling. The senators sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke urging him not to revise the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (Five-Year Plan) to eliminate protections for the East and West Coasts, the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and for the sensitive marine ecosystems in the Arctic Ocean. In the letter, the senators argue that oil companies are currently holding and warehousing leases in the Gulf of Mexico that comprise an area nearly the size of Kentucky, so there is no need to open up any new areas to oil drilling and the threat of a spill.

"Keeping protections from offshore drilling in place for the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans and the Eastern Gulf of Mexico in the Five-Year Plan is essential to protect key industries for our states, such as fishing and tourism, our environment and our climate," write the senators in the letter to Secretary Zinke. "Allowing drilling anywhere on the East or West Coasts would threaten key economic drivers for these states such as fishing and tourism with the risk of an oil spill. Offshore oil spills don't respect state boundaries and a spill off the coast of one state could easily affect another."

The letter is also signed by Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

A copy of the letter to Secretary Zinke can be found HERE.

A group of senators are also introducing a new bill today that would legislatively prohibit the Interior Secretary from revising the approved offshore drilling plan for those years to open up new areas.

A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Cardin and Van Hollen, as well as Markey, Menendez, Whitehouse, Booker, Blumenthal, Feinstein, Sanders, Hassan, Murray, Franken, Shaheen, Warren, Gillibrand, Nelson, Wyden, Reed, and Leahy.