Today, Congressman A. Donald McEachin led a letter signed by every Democratic member of the Virginia House delegation, stating their opposition to the inclusion of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s offshore area in forthcoming National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program.
“Expanding offshore drilling would put Virginia’s coastal communities at risk,” said Congressman A. Donald McEachin. “I strongly urge Secretary Bernhardt to exclude Virginia from the Department of the Interior’s next five-year plan for offshore oil and gas leasing. Virginians understand that an offshore drilling accident would be disastrous for our coastal communities, our economy, and our environment, and could compromise military operations. There is simply too much at stake for the Commonwealth.”
Today, the Trump administration announced that it will halt further progress on a new five-year plan for offshore oil and gas leasing pending resolution of ongoing litigation. Notwithstanding today’s news, the Congressman and his colleagues stand in strong opposition to any action that would ultimately expose Virginia’s coasts to the harms of drilling.
“Coastal tourism, recreation, and commercial fishing provide more than 86,000 jobs and nearly $4.8 billion in gross domestic product for the Commonwealth,” wrote the lawmakers. “Virginia’s economy is further bolstered by a strong military presence in Hampton Roads, home to the world’s largest naval base, and global commerce generated from the Port of Virginia, which helps support nearly ten percent of the state’s resident workforce. A potential oil spill would devastate these important sectors of the Commonwealth’s economy, destroying coastal communities and the valuable ecosystems along the Atlantic coast and within the Chesapeake Bay. Virginia’s shores, and the jobs and ecosystems they support, must be protected.”
“Virginia is home to more than 3,300 miles of coastline that support communities, economies and marine systems,” said Alexandra Adams, Legislative Director, Nature Program, Natural Resources Defense Council. Communities and leaders from this region have been clear that they are not willing to trade that for the risks and routine pollution that offshore drilling will certainly bring. This administration must now listen the Members of Congress that represent these areas— and all of the leaders around the nation—who have said that they stand with their communities and against risky offshore drilling.”