Trump Plan for Offshore Oil Sparks Anger in VA

Jan 9, 2018

Virginians are protesting today’s announcement from the Trump administration allowing offshore drilling for oil and gas along the East Coast of this state, the Carolinas and Georgia.  Many different groups have joined in opposition.

The Trump administration releases a five-year plan for oil and gas extraction off the coasts of Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia, sparking protests in the Commonwealth.
Credit NPR

Governor McAuliffe had asked the administration not to include Virginia in its five-year plan for drilling offshore. Governor-Elect Northam is also opposed, and environmental groups have raised objections.  Among them, the Southern Environmental Law Center where Deborah Murray is a senior attorney.  

“In the mid-Atlantic, south-Atlantic there have been at least 140 coastal communities --the tourist industry, particularly has been very vocal,” she says.

The fishing industry also objects as does the Department of Defense, arguing that the areas in question are important for military training. The announcement comes days after the administration eliminated environmental protections put in place after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  

“It’s a one-two blow – stopping studies, removing those regulations and then going full speed ahead everywhere,” Murray concludes.

The Department of the Interior would allow drilling for oil and gas up to three miles from shore, while previous rules had required a fifty mile buffer zone, and even before drilling occurs, Murray says there could be harm to marine mammals as engineers set off explosions to determine where oil and gas deposits might be.

“It could harm more than 130,000 whales and dolphins," she says, "because these are underwater blasts that go off every ten seconds.”

Before the new plan can take effect, there will be a opportunities for public comment.  Murray figures the process could take 18 months but is urging people to speak up now.