Ten Senate Democrats took to the floor yesterday to remind U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that they vehemently oppose his plan to open nearly all of America’s coasts to offshore drilling. The lawmakers warned of the imminent threat that any amount of offshore drilling would pose to their communities and economies.
“The Trump administration failed to account for the value of the existing robust coastal and ocean economies, which would be jeopardized by expanding offshore drilling in those areas,” said Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington.
Washington’s other senator, Patty Murray, concurred: “It would be hard to overstate just how important Washington’s coastal waters are to our local way of life.”
Delaware's coast generates $6.9 billion each year. Our beach communities, including Rehoboth Beach, support 59,000 jobs and $711 million in tax revenue. Our coasts provide more than 10% of our state's total employment, taxes and business production. pic.twitter.com/OFQ9LIGXXt— Senator Tom Carper (@SenatorCarper) February 6, 2018
Senator Tom Carper of Delaware pointed out that his state has just 30 miles of coastline—but that coastline generates billions of dollars in revenue each year.
I met this young man from New Hampshire yesterday, and had to show off the Maine lobsters on my tie – yet another reminder that we have to #ProtectOurCoast for the next generation. pic.twitter.com/OIBhVSMojB
I met this young man from New Hampshire yesterday, and had to show off the Maine lobsters on my tie – yet another reminder that we have to #ProtectOurCoast for the next generation. pic.twitter.com/OIBhVSMojB— Senator Angus King (@SenAngusKing) February 7, 2018
Senator Angus King, Jr., of Maine chastised Zinke for the “very little, if any, consultation” he had engaged in prior to making a decision that could gravely impact the state’s single-largest employer: tourism. King donned a lobster tie while pointing out that the seafood industry, a symbol of the state, depends on clean water and healthy marine life in order to thrive.
The administration, specifically Secretary Zinke, is playing fast and loose with the prospect of drilling off of Florida’s coast. The American people deserve better than this. And Floridians deserve to know what's going on. pic.twitter.com/31sCGskdzd— Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) February 7, 2018
Florida’s Senator Bill Nelson, whose state was hastily exempted from the offshore drilling policy, still spoke out, labeling the proposal both a “firestorm” and a “mess.” Of his state's exemption, Nelson said, “It was an obvious, transparent political stunt, but it created enormous uncertainty about what was truly under consideration for drilling. These five-year plans are supposed to be developed over the course of one or two years, with extensive input from the public, agency staff from the industries involved, from the environmental community. Five-year plans aren’t supposed to be a goody bag of political favors, and they can’t be undone by the secretary’s press conference or a tweet."
Other senators also decried Zinke’s decision to single out Florida’s “unique” shores. “If it’s good enough for Mar-a-Lago, it’s good enough for the New Jersey shore,” said Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey. He said the Interior Department’s offshore drilling plan read “like a wish list for oil industry executives.”
Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon called the drilling proposal a plan to “override the will of the people,” going so far as to say that even the seismic testing done in preparation of drilling was an unacceptable disruption.
When @SecretaryZinke gave FL a special carve-out from Trump’s offshore drilling plan, he said it was important to “take into consideration the local & state voice.” Well, Oregonians have voices too & we’ve been clear what we think about the plan to drill off of our beloved coast. pic.twitter.com/fAwitulds5— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) February 7, 2018
Standing in front of a blown-up image of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Senator Markey of Massachusetts called the proposal a “disgrace.”
And Senator Ron Wyden appeared to speak for the entire group when he repeated a line from his Twitter a few days earlier: “Drilling on the Oregon coast? You've got to be kidding me."
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