WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) joined their New England Senate colleagues in introducing the New England Coastal Protection Act. The legislation, which would bar offshore drilling along the region’s coast, follows a proposal from the Department of the Interior to open up federal Atlantic waters to offshore oil and natural gas exploration and extraction, putting vital coastline at risk and threatening a central economic engine for Maine and New England.
“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.”
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. In response, Senators Collins and King sent a letter to Secretary Zinke earlier this week expressing their opposition to the proposal. In their letter, the Senators highlight concerns that even minor spills could cause serious harm to the lobster industry, which contributes an estimated $1.7 billion to the state’s economy, in addition to hurting other fisheries, aquaculture and coastal tourism.
Joining Senators Collins and King in supporting the bill are Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Jack Reed (D-R.I), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Companion legislation was also introduced in the House by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.).