advertisement
March 5, 2018

Lawmakers tell feds 'no drilling' off Maine's coast

Collins photo Courtesy / MEDILL DC, FLICKR; King photo Courtesy / U.S. Naval War College, FLICKR
Collins photo Courtesy / MEDILL DC, FLICKR; King photo Courtesy / U.S. Naval War College, FLICKR
U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, are part of a bipartisan legislative effort to ban offshore drilling in New England waters. Maine's U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-District 1, and Bruce Poliquin, R-District 2, also support the ban. Last week, the Maine Legislature passed a resolution asking President Donald Trump to exclude Maine from any future offshore oil and gas drilling and exploration.

The Maine Legislature last week unanimously passed a resolution asking President Donald Trump to exclude Maine from any future offshore oil and gas drilling and exploration.

The PenBay Pilot reported the resolution was sponsored by Rep. Mick Devin, D-Newcastle.

"Over 45,000 jobs are associated with our coastal economy, which includes over 5,000 commercial fishermen. The risks are too high to place that many jobs in jeopardy," Devin said.

In January, U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, joined their New England colleagues in introducing the New England Coastal Protection Act, which would prohibit offshore drilling along the region's coast. U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine District 1, and Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine District 2, also oppose opening up the Gulf of Maine to offshore drilling.

The responses followed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's Jan. 4 announcement that the Trump administration would expand offshore oil and gas leasing to encompass around 90% of domestic coastlines.

Opportunity for public comment

On Wednesday, from 3-7 p.m., the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will host a public meeting at the Augusta Civic Center on the proposed plan.

But the Natural Resources Council of Maine reported that because the meeting will not include a chance for the public to speak out and testify on the issue, an alternative venue will be held that day in the Aroostook Room at the Augusta Civic Center starting at 2 p.m. with a news conference. It will be followed by an open session allowing Mainers to testify there until 7 p.m. The testimony will be recorded and submitted to the official public record, NRCM stated on its website.

Emmie Theberge, NRCM's federal project director, applauded the Maine Senate's unanimous passage Thursday of the resolution seeking to exclude Maine's Atlantic Ocean waters from President Trump's offshore oil exploration and drilling — noting that the measure was passed unanimously by the Maine House on Feb. 15.

"Where there's drilling, there's spilling," Theberge said. "Drilling in Maine waters would put our communities, fishermen, and coastal residents at risk of significant new dangers from oil pollution. Maine has nothing to gain and everything to lose from this risky plan. ... Maine's economy relies on our coast, tourism, lobstering, beaches, commercial fishing, aquaculture, and they all depend on clean and healthy waters."

Noting that the economic importance of Florida's coast was the exact reason why, shortly after announcing the plan, Zinke stated he would remove Florida's coastal waters from consideration for drilling, Theberge said "Maine waters deserve this protection, too."

"The Trump Administration's plan to sell off our ocean waters to the oil industry poses a major, unacceptable risk to Maine's coastal communities and marine life," she said. "Now is the time for Maine people to join our elected officials to speak up and oppose this short-sighted giveaway to the oil industry, at the expense of our economy and quality of life."

Comments

Type your comment here:

Today's Poll Do you support giving Maine tribes the right to start their own casinos without state approval?<>
ADVERTISEMENTS
Most Popular on Facebook