Victory! Atlantic Coast Protected from Offshore Drilling

Victory! Today, the Interior Department announced as part of a new five-year drilling plan, virtually all of the Arctic and the southeast Atlantic coast of the U.S. will become off limits for offshore drilling.

Secretary Jewel Tweeted: BREAKING Next 5-year offshore proposed plan protects the Atlantic for future generations.SJ

Thanks to the hard work of the Assateague Coastal Trust, Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper, Waterkeeper Alliance and our many partners like Oceana who organized over 100 local cities and towns up and down the East Coast to oppose offshore drilling. Matt Heim from Assateague Coastal Trust worked tirelessly to get several coastal towns in Maryland and Delaware to pass resolutions against offshore drilling. On Virginia’s eastern shore, Jay Ford worked to get Accomack and Northampton counties to send their concerns to the Administration, the only Virginia counties that did. Matt, Jay and several residents traveled to Washington D.C. and Richmond to let officials know offshore drilling would be detrimental to our economy, culture and clean water. Last August, over a hundred kayaktivists gathered off the shore of Ocean City at Float for the Coast to protest offshore drilling during the annual Maryland counties meeting.

“The Eastern Shore spoke with a united voice in defense of clean waters and we have been heard,” Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper Jay Ford. 

“This is an incredible day for our coastal towns,” said Betsy Nicholas, Waterkeepers Chesapeake Executive Director. “It represents the hard work of our Waterkeepers and thousands of people up and down the Atlantic coast. It protects some of our most cherished places, from our Virginia and Maryland coasts to the Chesapeake Bay. It is a great day when our voices are heard and our waters are protected.”

“While the threat of seismic airguns is still out there in the Atlantic, the removal of the mid and south Atlantic from the 5 Year Leasing Program is a HUGE Victory that could ultimately seal the deal on seismic airguns as well!,” Assateague Coastkeeper Kathy Phillips.

In a statement from the Department of Interior: “We heard from many corners that now is not the time to offer oil and gas leasing off the Atlantic coast,” added Secretary Jewell. “When you factor in conflicts with national defense, economic activities such as fishing and tourism, and opposition from many local communities, it simply doesn’t make sense to move forward with any lease sales in the coming five years.”

Marc Yaggi, Executive Director of Waterkeeper Alliance, reacted to the plan:

“We are pleased that President Obama responded to concerns of businesses and residents along the East Coast by removing the Atlantic Ocean from the areas open to offshore drilling. This is wonderful news for the Atlantic coast economy and millions of Americans who want to keep treasured beaches from Florida to Virginia oil free. That said, to avoid catastrophic climate change, we need to keep a vast majority of fossil fuel reserves in the ground. This requires decisive action, including stopping offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and Arctic Ocean.”