The Trump administration wants to open most of the U.S. coastline to oil and gas exploration, including Maine. Our congressional delegation as well as the Maine legislature unanimously oppose the plan. Attend a public hearing in Augusta on Wednesday, March 7 and submit a public comment before the March 9 deadline.
The Trump administration released a draft proposal to open more than 90% of the outer continental shelf (OCS) to oil and gas exploration. Currently, drilling is allowed only on 6% of the OCS, which encompasses all submerged lands off the U.S. coast that fall outside states’ jurisdiction. The move has been widely criticized by environmentalists and leaders in coastal states, including all four of Maine’s Congressional delegation. Environmentalists cite the devastation of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, which pumped 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. According to the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), opening Maine’s coastal waters to drilling and the risk of a similar disaster could devastate aquaculture, seafood, and tourism industries in Maine, as well as businesses in coastal communities—and all for little gain. The Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast says more than 41,000 businesses oppose the plan. Gov. Paul LePage (R) has not issued a statement on the new proposal but is the only New England governor who has supported expanded offshore drilling in the past. Reps. Pingree and Poliquin and Sens. Collins and King have co-sponsored H.R.4774 and S.2298, legislation that would ban oil and gas leasing on the OCS off the coast of New England. And on March 1, the Maine Legislature unanimously approved a resolution calling on the Trump administration exclude Maine and the state’s offshore areas from its proposal to open coastal waters to offshore drilling. “Public hearings” scheduled by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, including one in Maine on Jan. 22, offered no opportunity for the public to share concerns in a true public forum. Working with a coalition of environmental and consumer groups, NRCM will hold an actual public forum at the same time as the BOEM event on Wednesday, March 7, giving Mainers a platform and microphone to share comments, which will be recorded and submitted into the official record.
- Submit a public comment opposing this proposal via regulations.gov. See talking points below for details you might include in your comment and read these tips on how to submit an effective public comment. You may also submit your comment via a form from the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
- Attend the “real” public forum March 7 from 2pm to 7pm at the Augusta Civic Center, hosted by NRCM and other environmental groups.
- Call or email Reps. Pingree and Poliquin and Sens. Collins and King to thank them for their support of H.R.4774/S.2298.
- Use these hashtags when commenting on social media: #killthedrill, #offshoredrilling, and #protectouroceans.
- Engineers and scientists say Trump’s plan would make a repeat of the devastating 2010 oil spill inevitable. The Interior Department estimates a 75% chance of a major oil spill in the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea from just a single lease sale.
- Existing offshore drilling is responsible for an estimated 30,000 oil spills per year.
- A spill off Maine’s coast would decimate the tourism industry, which supports nearly 106,000 jobs for Mainers. In 2015, 71% of tourist spending in the state was along the coast, totaling $4 billion.
- This plan would allow seismic underwater testing and exploratory drilling that research suggests causes serious displacement of fish, which could reduce the commercial fish catch by up to 70%, a potential death blow to Maine’s shellfish, fishing, and lobster industries.
- The economic hit to Maine from this proposal and its high risk of accident and injury would be swift and severe: In 2015, Maine’s shellfish aquaculture and lobster industries contributed $15 million and $1.5 billion, respectively, to the state’s economy.
- In 2014, the U.S. Atlantic Ocean economy contributed more than $92 billion to the nation’s GDP—one of many reasons why drilling in the Atlantic hasn’t been seriously considered for more than 30 years.
- The current five-year plan, finalized less than a year ago, was the result of a multi-year process that included extensive public input, including more than 1.4 million public comments opposing offshore drilling, scientific evidence of the risk of environmental damage, and feedback from members of Congress, governors, and community leaders in states whose coastal waters would be affected.