Today, Waterkeepers Chesapeake submitted comments to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) expressing strong opposition to the inclusion of the Mid- and South Atlantic planning areas in the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s draft 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program.
Waterkeepers Chesapeake, a coalition of 18 independent Waterkeeper programs located in the Chesapeake Bay region, includes the Assateague Coastkeeper at Assateague Coastal Trust and the Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper. Waterkeepers Chesapeake submitted comments on behalf of all 18 programs and the residents they represent in recognition that allowing offshore drilling for oil and gas off the Atlantic coast will have vast and long-lasting impacts on this region’s environment, public health, economy and communities. The cumulative effects of offshore drilling need to be considered.
The Chesapeake Bay and the Delmarva (Delaware, Maryland and Virginia) coastal area are fragile, constantly changing ecosystems. Maintaining the health of these ecosystems is critical to preserving the way of life that is unique to the Bay and the shore, a way of life that is dependent upon clean water that is swimmable and fishable.
For the first time in recent history the Mid-Atlantic coastline could potentially be open to offshore deepwater drilling for oil, and underwater fracking wells for natural gas. The Mid- and South-Atlantic areas should be removed from the proposed plan for the following reasons:
- Offshore drilling could risk millions of jobs, critical marine ecosystems, recreational opportunities, and tourism industries along the Atlantic coast and the Chesapeake Bay.
- Opening the Atlantic to oil and gas leasing would lead to more seismic testing in the Atlantic, putting wildlife and fisheries at risk.
- The potential benefits of offshore drilling in the Atlantic are not worth the risk to the coastal regions and the Chesapeake Bay economically and environmentally.
- Alternative energy, energy efficiency, and energy conservation as the alternatives to expanded offshore drilling should be considered in the PEIS.
- Expanding offshore drilling in the Atlantic will only deepen our dependence on oil and gas, and worsen the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification.
For the reasons stated above, Waterkeepers Chesapeake requested that the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic planning areas be removed from BOEM’s 2011-2022 Draft Proposed Plan for OCS Resources. Furthermore, Waterkeepers Chesapeake requested public hearings on BOEM’s 2017-2022 OCS Resource Plan as required when there may be substantial environmental controversy concerning the environmental effects of the proposed action (40 CFR 1506.6 (c)).
For additional information about Atlantic Coast offshore drilling, visit Assateague Coastkeeper’s website. And follow #MyEastCoast and #NotOffMyCoast on social media.