The Surfrider Foundation Massachusetts Chapter is joining with the National Surfrider Foundation in vehemently opposing a draft offshore oil and gas drilling plan recently released by the Trump Administration. (See: Surfrider Foundation Letter of Opposition, Press Release)

More than 90% of the US continental shelf, including New England waters, would be opened to drilling under the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM’s) most recent 5-year National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Draft Proposed Program.

Please join us and take action to stop this from happening

This massive and reckless expansion threatens the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Pacific, and Alaska coasts with destructive seismic surveys, oilfield operations, and increased tanker traffic. Even beyond the 1500-2000 tons of chemical wastes discharged by each well during routine operations, it raises the specter of a devastating Deepwater Horizon– or Exxon Valdez-style oil spill off the Massachusetts coast.

Such grave risks to our irreplaceable marine ecosystems, local communities, and coastal industries are absolutely intolerable.

While expanded drilling is being touted as a way to improve US energy independence, in practice, there is not enough oil and gas in the Atlantic to make a long-term impact on the national energy landscape. The BOEM’s 2019-2024 draft leasing proposal will only reinforce our addiction to fossil fuels and primarily benefit the oil and gas industry. The risks of permanent ecological devastation and subsequent harm to our economy and way of life are just not worth it. These fossil fuels are best left where they are.

The MA Chapter’s opposition to this proposal is also shared by many coastal communities, numerous environmental and industry groups, and more than 1200 elected officials at all levels, including a bipartisan group of MA State Senators, a bipartisan group of New England US Senators who have introduced the New England Coastal Protection Act to block offshore drilling off the coasts of New England.

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How can you help?
  • Respond to the Surfrider Foundation Action Alert! Tell your federal elected officials that you oppose expanded offshore drilling.
  • Join our partner Environment Massachusetts’ petition asking MA Governor Charlie Baker to formally oppose the proposed drilling expansion

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Surfrider Foundation Testimony Opposing the Draft Proposed OCS Oil & Gas Leasing Program

To: Kelly Hammerle
National Program Manager
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
U.S. Department of Interior
45600 Woodland Road
Mailstop VAM-LD
Sterling, VA 20166

Dear Ms. Hammerle,

The undersigned Surfrider Foundation chapters and recreation dependent businesses write to express strong opposition to BOEM’s Draft Proposed 2019-2024 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program. The expansion of offshore oil drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific, Eastern Gulf of Mexico, and Arctic Ocean would cause enormous and unnecessary negative impacts to our nation’s marine ecosystems, coastal communities, and vital recreation and tourism industries.

Offshore oil and gas development in new areas would require seismic surveys, drilling operations, oil transport by tankers, and the installation of platforms, pipelines, and other infrastructure. Collectively these activities would significantly damage the environment, marine wildlife, and coastal economies and ways of life. New offshore drilling would also expose the marine environment and coastal communities to the risks of another catastrophic oil spill.

In addition, the draft proposal contradicts previous findings of your agency, scientific experts, and the expressed wishes of a vast majority of the general public. In 2016, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management finalized its five-year offshore drilling program for 2017-2022, a plan that was carefully developed after years of scientific analysis and submission of comments by millions of Americans. The program generated by that process protects the Atlantic, Pacific, Eastern Gulf of Mexico, and Arctic Ocean from offshore oil and gas development and has significant bipartisan support, as demonstrated by a letter signed by more than 100 House Democrats and Republicans.

Industries that rely upon a healthy marine ecosystem, including tourism and recreation, generate billions of dollars for coastal states and the nation as a whole. Coastal recreation and tourism accounts for 83 percent of establishments and 71 percent of employment opportunities for coastal communities in the United States. Additional studies by the Surfrider Foundation and our partners to inform ocean planning efforts in the Northwest, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic have documented the extensive public participation and economic impacts of non-consumptive ocean and coastal recreation. For instance, Surfrider Foundation’s 2015 Recreational Use Study found that the Washington coast attracted 4.1 million trips in a single year, resulting in $481 million from direct expenditures to the coastal economy.

These coastal recreation opportunities depend on clean beaches and waters, abundant wildlife, and scenic view sheds – all of which would be compromised by the expansion of offshore drilling. A spill could cause catastrophic impacts to these coastal communities, a truth we should have learned from previous spills in other areas that have had long-lasting impacts on local tourism rates, with major disasters resulting in 25 percent of small businesses unable to re-open. Oil and gas companies have claimed that improvements in technology have greatly reduced the likelihood of a spill, yet between 2006 and 2015, 389 oil spills occurred from OCS platforms and pipelines (not even counting associated vessels and barges), tarnishing our coastlines with roughly 206.5 million gallons of oil.

In summary, we ask that you protect the Atlantic Coast, Pacific Coast, Eastern Gulf of Mexico and Arctic Ocean from any oil and gas exploration and development activities in the revised 2019–2024 OCS Oil and Gas Program. We also ask that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management undertake a robust analysis that adequately analyzes the cumulative impacts to the environment, coastal communities, and existing industries from drilling operations and large oil spills, and considers alternatives to offshore drilling.

The Surfrider Foundation appreciates the opportunity to provide these comments on behalf of the following Surfrider chapters and recreation dependent businesses. Surfrider’s U.S. network includes 80 chapters, 70 youth clubs, and over 500,000 members and supporters.

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Senators Introduce Bipartisan New England Offshore Drilling Ban
Bill would protect ocean and coastal resources responsible for over $17.5 billion annually in the region

January 11, 2018

Rich Davidson (Whitehouse), 202-228-6291
Giselle Barry (Markey), 202-224-2742
Laura Maloney (Murphy), 202-228-1056

Washington, DC – Today, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) led a bipartisan group of New England Senators in introducing legislation to bar offshore drilling along the New England coast. The New England Coastal Protection Act responds to a move by the Trump administration to open up Atlantic waters to offshore oil and natural gas exploration and extraction, putting vital coastline at risk and threatening a central economic engine for New England. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) joined Whitehouse in introducing the legislation. Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) also introduced the legislation in the House today.

“The Trump administration won’t be following through on its reckless choice to allow oil and gas drilling off Rhode Island’s coast if New England’s bipartisan members of Congress have anything to say about it,” said Senator Whitehouse. “For the potential gain of corporate fossil fuel interests, offshore drilling would threaten the Ocean State’s coastal economy and jobs in our state, including fishermen and the thousands of people employed in tourism and recreation along Narragansett Bay.”

“We cannot risk another BP oil spill that would devastate Massachusetts’ economy and our unique environment,” said Senator Markey. “Georges Bank should not become Exxon’s bank. This reckless drilling plan would threaten Massachusetts’ fishing and tourism industry, even as we currently export U.S. oil to China. This drilling plan is all risk with no reward for some of the most beautiful coastline in the world, and I will fight it every step of the way.”

“The Trump Administration’s offshore drilling expansion plan is a threat to our economy, the environment, and public health. Rhode Islanders don’t want offshore oil rigs drilling along our coastline and their voices deserve to be heard,” said Senator Jack Reed. “This bill would help us to prevent oil and gas drilling in New England waters.”

“The waters off Maine’s coast provide a healthy ecosystem for our state’s fisheries and support a vigorous tourism industry, both of which support thousands of jobs and generate billions of dollars in revenue for Maine each year,” said Senators Collins and King. “With our environment so closely tied to the vitality of Maine’s economy, we cannot risk the health of our ocean on a shortsighted proposal that could impact Maine people for generations. We are proud to join our colleagues from New England to underscore the need to protect our waters from offshore drilling.”

“New Hampshire has eighteen miles of coastline – eighteen miles of homes, small businesses and wildlife that will be threatened by offshore drilling because of the Trump administration’s actions,” said Senator Shaheen. “This isn’t a theoretical threat. Too many American communities have experienced the economic and environmental devastation that comes from oil spills. We can’t afford that kind of risk to our Seacoast communities that heavily rely on tourism. The Trump administration needs to stop playing politics with offshore drilling and do what’s right for New Hampshire’s Seacoast. I’m glad to stand with the New England delegation to support a ban on offshore drilling.”

“Our coastal communities in New Hampshire are critical to our economy and our environment, and we must do everything that we can to protect them,”Senator Hassan said. “Offshore drilling has caused some of the greatest man-made natural disasters of our time, and we cannot open up our New England coastline to such potential destruction. I am proud to join this bipartisan bill to prevent that from happening and to let the Trump Administration know that our coast is off limits.”

“President Trump’s disastrous and irresponsible proposal has the potential to devastate economies and environments up and down the New England coast. Our coastline should be protected as a vital tourism, fishing, and environmental resource – not exposed to the dangers of oil spills or drilling pollution. President Trump’s blatant effort to benefit Big Oil must be met with renewed determination from Congress to protect our waterways for future generations,”said Senator Blumenthal.

“Connecticut residents are outraged. New England depends on healthy, protected shorelines and the Trump administration just put it all at risk. Trump’s priorities are completely backwards – he’s putting the interests of the oil and gas industries ahead of my constituents, and I will do everything I can to reverse this policy,” said Senator Murphy.

“Rhode Island’s coastline supports good-paying jobs and economic growth in every city and town across our state. President Trump is putting these jobs and the security of our natural resources in jeopardy,” said Congressman Cicilline. “Rhode Islanders do not want oil and gas drilling just a few miles off our shores. I’m proud to be introducing this bill with Senator Whitehouse, Congressman Langevin, Senator Reed, and so many of our colleagues who are fighting back against the Trump administration’s reckless agenda.”

Last week, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the Trump administration would expand offshore oil and gas leasing to encompass around 90 percent of the United States’ coastlines. Governors from both parties alike have denounced the administration’s actions, citing the severe economic and environmental effects drilling will have on their states. After a meeting between Secretary Zinke and Florida Governor Rick Scott, the administration indicated it would exempt Florida’s coastline from the new leasing proposal, raising serious legal questions and triggering allegations of favoritism by the administration.

According to the Conservation Law Foundation, ocean and coastal industries, including tourism, fishing, and recreation, generate more than $17.5 billion in New England annually. Expanding drilling in the Atlantic would harm New England’s vital industries, and significantly increase the chances of environmental disaster in the region.

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February 22, 2018

CONTACT: Hannah Walford, 617-722-1572, ; Don Siriani 978-761-0472

Boston – In time to influence a public meeting in Boston called by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and set for next Tuesday, the Massachusetts State Senate, under bipartisan leadership, has passed a resolution opposing a federal initiative to reopen oil and gas drilling in the waters off New England.

Mike Barrett, Democrat of Lexington and Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Energy, and Bruce Tarr, Republican of Gloucester and Senate Minority Leader, coauthored the document, which passed the Senate on Thursday, Feb. 22.

The Resolution states, in part, “The Administration’s actions threaten to jeopardize the environmental well-being of the Commonwealth and, more particularly, its coastal communities and waters.”

It goes on, “The Commonwealth supports energy diversity, but the environmental and economic importance of the waters off the coast of the Commonwealth must be weighed against the benefits claimed for speculative offshore drilling.”

The Senate statement concludes by asking “the United States Department of the Interior to take all possible action to protect the waters off the coast of the Commonwealth and New England, in particular Georges Bank, Stellwagon Bank, and Jeffreys Ledge, and to exempt these areas from oil exploration initiatives.”

“Today, the Senate expressed its sincere interest in preventing risk to our ocean waters from a proposed Federal oil and gas drilling lease program under review by the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management,” said Tarr. “Our coastal marine environment contains precious resources that support employment, commerce, research and our quality of life. The well-being of our coastal communities must be protected and defended”

“In terms of Massachusetts’ and New England’s values, this is one terrible idea,” Barrett said. “The country currently has projected surpluses of oil and natural gas for as far as the eye can see. This threat of environmental and economic devastation to our part of the nation could not be more pointless, nor more disrespectful to the traditions of the region.”

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