The Maine Legislature has also unanimously passed a Resolution asking for Maine’s Atlantic Ocean waters to be excluded from the President’s proposal for offshore oil exploration and drilling. The Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will host a meeting on Wednesday, March 7, in Augusta to discuss the plan.
This leasing program seeks to make a majority of the United States Outer Continental Shelf open to oil and gas exploration and construction, representing the first time in decades that many states’ coasts would be exposed to such development and potential harm.
“The impact of environmental damage of a spill from an offshore oil drilling rig would reverberate far beyond the coastal Maine economy,” said Rep. Jessica Fay, D-Raymond, who serves on the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee. “We have many residents here in Casco, Poland and Raymond who depend on Maine’s clean ocean environment for their livelihood. The risk to our brand is too great. The image of oil-soaked lobster or seaweed mixed with black goo could destroy our economy.”
“These state legislators are committed to protecting the coastlines of the United States,” said Jeff Mauk, Executive Director of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators.
“They understand the economic and environmental importance of our coasts and are standing together against this proposal.”
The letter, spearheaded by Washington State Senator, Kevin Ranker and California State Senator, Kevin De Leon, cites numerous issues that come with offshore drilling. These issues range from the large-scale, irreparable damage caused by oil spills, to the long-term damage to coastal economies after these disasters.
“This reckless proposal opens over 90 percent of US shorelines to new oil and gas drilling, putting our economy and marine environment at risk of a catastrophic oil spill,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker. “States across the country are standing up together to protect our communities, our marine and coastal environment and economy.”
Tourism, fishing, aquaculture, shipping, and defense are critical economic drivers and are the underpinning of all U.S. coastal states’ economies. NOAA reports that coastal communities alone provide 45 percent of our nation’s gross domestic product. It is clear that U.S. coastlines are a fundamental part of the nation’s economic activity and would be threatened by the offshore drilling plan.
Created by and for state legislators, the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that organizes over 1,000 environmentally-committed state legislators from all 50 states and both parties. NCEL provides venues and opportunities for lawmakers to share ideas and collaborate on environmental issues.
Fay is serving her first term in the Maine Legislature and represents part of Casco, part of Poland and part of Raymond.