New Yorkers Stand Opposed to Offshore Drilling Plan

Today, February 14, elected officials and environmental leaders convened in Smithtown, NY, to decry Trump’s “National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2019-24.” Tomorrow, the government Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will convene a public meeting in Albany, where there is no sea breeze blowing—far away from the action. We support local officials and advocates who will be attending the meeting and share our deep disappointment and concern over a plan that prioritizes profit over people, earmarks checks and territories to oil enterprises in disregard of the potential environmental impact on the region, and retracts environmentally protective laws and practices in order to trample over local concerns. We will continue to fight this plan, which endangers public health, water quality, and local industries and ways of life.

The plan would make the 90% of shelf acreage available for drilling. This includes the 98% of offshore regions that are “undiscovered, technically recoverable” oil and gas resources. According to Energy Information Administration (EIA): “In 2016, 65 percent of energy consumed in the United States came from petroleum, other liquid hydrocarbons, and natural gas, and this percentage is projected to increase through 2050.” While the writers of the plan admit that “Higher levels of activity often equate to higher level of risk of impact,” they maintain that “By offering leases in every planning area, this DPP more equitably shares benefits and risks among regions than any National OCS Program in the past 30 years.” By opening up America’s shores to offshore drilling and repealing safety laws that President Trump believes to be “too restrictive,” and letting laws such as the 9% oil cleanup tax per barrel to lapse at the turn of 2018, pave the way for drilling to continue into the long distant future in environments without local support.

By prioritizing fossil fuel extraction over renewable energy, the administration has shown its cards: it intends to retreat to the past in the energy field in search of short-term gains without heeding the potential short- and long-term ramifications of this strategy. This “gold rush” approach to coastal offshore drilling could devastate Long Island’s future economic prospects and way of life. According to a 2016 report from Tourism Economics, Tourism on Long Island is a $5.6 billion industry that supports close to 100,000 jobs and accounts for 54 percent of traveler spending. Long Island simply cannot afford another Deepwater Horizon.By threatening the water supply — flashback to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico — this plan puts the long-term fate of Long Island at stake.

NYLCV looks forward to partnering with organizations who are lending their voice in support of the environment, in defiance of oil companies’ interest in treasure hunting at the expense of local industry, and in support of alternative energy solutions. Governor Cuomo’s Offshore Wind project will cause no spills. Governor Cuomo opposes the proposed plan along with bipartisan leaders, with the exception of Maine, across the Atlantic coast region. People and their way of life must come first—and not the polluters—when our fossil fuel production is already at its highest level seen in some time.