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Congressman Lowenthal Urges Trump Administration To Keep Atlantic And Pacific Oceans Off-Limits To New Oil And Gas Leases

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Washington, D.C., May 11, 2017 | comments

Congressman Lowenthal (D-CA) today led a bipartisan group of more than 100 Members of the House of Representatives in urging Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Ryan Zinke to keep Atlantic and Pacific oceans off-limits to new oil and gas leases.

In the letter to Secretary Zinke, the Congressman and his colleagues pointed out that the tourism and fishing industries, both directly threatened by offshore drilling accidents, are a $63 billion economy supporting 1.3 million jobs on the U.S. East Coast and a $26 billion economy supporting 536,000 jobs on the West Coast. “We do not believe that new oil and gas exploration or production activity in the Atlantic and Pacific Outer Continental Shelf is compatible with the sustainable coastal economies on which so many of our constituents and communities depend,” Congressman Lowenthal and his colleagues wrote.

Secretary Zinke is currently examining the United States offshore oil and gas leasing program pursuant to the terms of an executive order signed by President Trump on April 28. The executive order directed the Department of the Interior to review and potentially re-start the oil and gas lease sale planning process—possibly including the Atlantic or Pacific oceans—which the Obama Administration completed in January covering the years 2017 through 2022.

 “The Executive Order on offshore drilling basically said: drill baby drill, and while you’re at it, make the drilling less safe.” Rep. Lowenthal said. “However, we have over a hundred Members of Congress, from both parties and from across the country, saying that is not the direction we want to go.  It is crucial to make an early and strong statement that President Trump and Secretary Zinke should keep the Atlantic and Pacific coasts protected, not go backwards.” 

The letter--signed by over 100 Members of Congress--is co-led by Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-MA) and Congressmen Don Beyer (D-VA), Anthony Brown (D-MD), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Dave Reichert (R-WA), and Mark Sanford (R-SC).

Thanks to years of effort and input from coastal Members of Congress, state and local governments, coastal businesses, and concerned citizens, the 2017-2022 leasing program protects the Atlantic and Pacific coasts–and the roughly $90 billion tourism and fishing industries located on those coasts–from oil and gas leasing at least until 2022. The new executive order puts all of that at risk, and could result in drilling rigs off our coasts and beaches as early as 2019.

Click here for the full text of the letter and a list of signatories. 
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