Healthy Oceans Blog

Congress Must Vote to Protect America's Coasts, Oceans, and Marine Life from Offshore Drilling

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on two bills that would permanently protect coastal communities across America from the dangers of reckless offshore oil and gas drilling and costly oil spills.

H.R. 205, sponsored by Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL), would permanently ban oil and gas drilling off Florida’s Gulf Coast, while H.R. 1941, sponsored by Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), would block drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts. The House Natural Resources Committee approved both bills with bipartisan support in June. Several appropriations amendments to block the expansion of offshore oil and gas drilling and exploration in the oceans along hundreds of thousands of miles of our nation’s coasts also passed with bipartisan support.

There is widespread bipartisan opposition to expanded offshore drilling. That opposition includes nearly all coastal Governors, 2,200 elected officials across the political spectrum, more than 360 municipalities, 47,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families, and a host of faith and conservation leaders.

Drilling is an extremely risky proposition. The U.S. Atlantic Ocean economy and California’s ocean economy contributed more than $94 billion and $43.5 billion to the country’s gross domestic product, respectively, in 2016. National parks on both coasts and in the Eastern Gulf, that cover over 6,300 shoreline miles, contributed $6.2 billion to local communities and over 58,800 non-federal jobs. The Department of Defense has also made clear that the continuation of the moratorium in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico on oil and gas leasing, and any related activities, is essential to vital military readiness activities.

This week leading national and local organizations offered the following statement in response:

“Offshore drilling is dangerous and dirty, and it would be reckless to threaten the future of our coastal communities, oceans, national parks, marine life and climate. The House of Representatives should seize this chance to permanently protect a large majority of our coasts and block the expansion of offshore drilling. We can’t put our coastal economies and oceans at risk from devastating oil spills just for the benefit of oil and gas companies. The stakes for our coastal communities couldn’t be higher, which is why Democratic and Republican Governors from coast to coast, thousands of local elected officials, local businesses and environmental organizations all oppose expanded offshore drilling activities. We urge every member of the House to show their commitment to protecting our coasts from environmental and economic disaster by voting in favor of both Representative Rooney and Representative Cunningham’s bills.”

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

The League of Conservation Voters believes our earth is worth fighting for because everyone has a right to clean air, water, lands, and a safe, healthy community. To ensure those rights are protected, the organization helps people use their power to shape policy, hold politicians and polluters accountable, and influence elections. Visit us at www.lcv.org, and follow us on Twitter @LCVoters.

Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one third of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 200 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that one billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit www.usa.oceana.org to learn more.

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.

Greenpeace is a global, independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

Environment America is a national network of 29 state environmental groups. Our staff work together for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife and open spaces, and a livable climate. Our members across the United States put grassroots support behind our research and advocacy. Environment America is part of The Public Interest Network, which runs organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world, a set of core values, and a strategic approach to getting things done.

Ocean Conservancy is working to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together with our partners, we create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. Visit us at www.oceanconservancy.org and follow us on Twitter @OurOcean.

The Surfrider Foundation is a grassroots environmental organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world's oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network.

Waterkeeper Alliance holds polluters accountable. We’re the largest and fastest-growing nonprofit solely focused on clean water. We preserve and protect water by connecting local Waterkeeper groups worldwide. Our goal is drinkable, fishable, swimmable water everywhere.

Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations.

The Wilderness Society is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than one million members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 110 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands. Visit www.wilderness.org.

GreenLatinos is a non-profit representing latinx environmentalists across the country.

Southern Environmental Law Center has for more than 30 years used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With over 80 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org.

The mission of Conservation Voters of South Carolina is to make conservation and environmental issues a top priority among South Carolina’s elected leaders, political candidates, and voters. CVSC fights for our air, land, water, and energy through political action. We are bipartisan, pragmatic, and effective. Visit www.cvsc.org to learn more.

This post originially appeared on NRDC's website and can be viewed here.