Northam on Trump administration blocking public comment on offshore drilling

ralph northamGovernor Ralph Northam released the following statement today reiterating his opposition to the Trump administration’s plans to expand offshore drilling off of all U.S. waters and calling on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to host additional public meetings in Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore.

Today, BOEM will host its only meeting in Virginia of the public comment period in Richmond, nearly 100 miles away from the coastal communities who would feel the impacts of the plan.

“If the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management doesn’t hold additional hearings in the Tidewater region, I will be one of the few people from a Virginia coastal community who has had the opportunity to share my opposition to the administration’s plan to put our economy, environment, national security, and the health and safety of our residents at risk,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “That is not good governance. Virginians, especially those that would feel the effects of this plan most, should have the same opportunity that I have had to offer their opinions. As governor, I will use every tool at my disposal to ensure no drilling occurs off Virginia’s coast.”

“The Trump administration’s plan to open the waters off Virginia’s coast to oil and gas drilling poses a massive threat to our economy and our environment,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Matt Strickler. “I share the governor’s concerns about the risks this will pose to our military installations, tourism industry, aquaculture, recreational and commercial fisheries, and the health of the Chesapeake Bay. These would all be jeopardized by one exploration gone wrong. Virginia’s unique and valuable coastal and ocean resources deserve preservation and we will continue to advocate for the Commonwealth’s exemption from this plan.”

“We are proud of Virginia’s strong relationship with the military—the prospect of offshore drilling puts that relationship at risk,” said Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins. “The Defense Department has already expressed their concerns about what the administration’s plan will mean for readiness and the significant military installations they currently have in place. Today, I echo those concerns and the governor’s call for a public comment period that includes the regions and industries that will feel the impacts of this proposal the most.”

In a call with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke earlier this month, Governor Northam requested additional hearings and Virginia’s exemption from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s next iteration of the Five Year Oil and Gas Leasing Program. The governor also outlined his concerns about the administration’s plan in a letter this January.


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