WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke expressing their opposition to a recent proposal from the Department of Interior that would allow offshore drilling in the vast majority of federal waters, including potentially off the coast of Maine.
“We oppose any effort to open waters off the coast of Maine or any proximate area to offshore drilling, which could negatively affect the health of Maine’s fisheries and other coastal resources, threatening to harm not only the environment but the state’s economy as well,” the Senators wrote in their letter. “Maine’s economic stability—and countless Mainers’ livelihoods—has always depended on the health of the ocean. The Maine lobster industry, for example, has an estimated $1.7 billion impact to the state’s economy annually, not to mention the many other fishing, aquaculture, and coastal tourism industries in Maine that help to support the economy. These critical industries are dependent on Maine’s pristine waters, and even a minor spill could damage irreparably the ecosystem in the Gulf of Maine…”
The Interior Department’s draft proposed plan includes two auctions for offshore drilling leases in the North Atlantic region, which stretches from New Jersey to Maine. One auction is slated for 2021, and the second for 2023. Before the draft proposal is finalized, the Department of the Interior will hold public meetings across the nation to solicit feedback from local stakeholders, including one in Maine, which will take place at the Augusta Civic Center on January 22nd, beginning at 3 p.m.
The full text of the Senators’ letter can be found HERE and below: