Bill would protect ocean economy that generates $17 billion annually throughout New England
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) joined a bipartisan group of New England Senators to reintroduce legislation barring oil and gas drilling off the region’s shoreline. Oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic would put vital coastline and precious ocean resources at risk, threatening a central economic engine for 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 sustain 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 our state for generations. We are proud to join our colleagues from New England to underscore the necessity of protecting our waters from offshore drilling.”
Before first introducing this legislation last year, Senators Collins and King sent a letter to then-Secretary Zinke expressing their opposition to the proposal to open the coast of New England to offshore drilling. In their letter, the Senators highlighted 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.
According to the National Ocean Economics Program, the ocean economy, including tourism, fishing, and recreation, generates more than $17 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.
The Trump Administration last week indicated that plans to open new coastline to offshore drilling were tentatively sidelined. The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, however, continues to review applications for permits to conduct seismic testing in the Atlantic Ocean – a precursor to oil and gas drilling.
Joining Senators Collins and King in introducing the bill are U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.). Congressman David Cicilline (D-R.I.) has introduced the legislation (H.R. 287) in the House with 20 cosponsors.