Connolly, Northam nix Trump plan to expand offshore drilling

President Trump is moving to expand offshore oil drilling off the coast of Virginia and other East Coast states, a plan that Northern Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly calls “reckless and a serious threat to all Virginians.” Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Governor-elect Ralph Northam also denounced the plan.

“Why would we risk our local economy, our pristine coastline, our booming tourism industry, and jeopardize the Defense Department’s presence in the region for a plan that would have no benefit to Virginia?” Connolly asked. “Offshore drilling is too risky, and I will continue to work with my colleagues, Governor-elect Northam, and all stakeholders to oppose this decision.”

Beyer called the plan a “giveaway to the oil and gas industry, made over the objections of coastal communities, military leaders, and environmental organizations.”

“Local, state, and federal leaders from both parties have been vocal in their opposition to this move. When taken with last week’s decision to reverse safety and enforcement rules put in place after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster, Trump is exposing our nation’s coastal communities and environment to unacceptably high risks,” he said.

Northam said the plan would jeopardize the region’s economic health.

“Expanding offshore drilling unnecessarily jeopardizes our economy, environment, national security, and the health and safety of our residents. All it takes is one exploration gone wrong to do immeasurable harm to major economic drivers including tourism, fishing, aquaculture, and our military installations,” Northam said in an email.

“As governor, I’ll join other governors in opposing this decision and continue my record of fighting for state-driven conservation solutions.”

Trump’s five-year plan would expand drilling from Florida to Maine and along the West Coast.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who announced the plan, said “responsible development of offshore energy resources” would boost jobs and economic security while providing billions of dollars to fund conservation along U.S. coastlines.

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Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.