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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

AG’S OFFICE JOINS SCIENTISTS, FISHING FAMILIES, AND ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCATES IN OPPOSING ATLANTIC DRILLING PLAN

AG’S OFFICE JOINS SCIENTISTS, FISHING FAMILIES, AND ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCATES IN OPPOSING ATLANTIC DRILLING PLAN
Following Florida Exemption, Delivers Letter Addressed to Secretary Zinke Pledging to Fight Plan to Open up Areas off the Massachusetts Coast to Oil and Gas Drilling

BOSTON — Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office today joined scientists, environmental advocates, fishing families, and elected officials from across the state in calling on the Trump Administration to end its reckless plan to open up nearly all offshore areas – including the entire Massachusetts coast – to oil and gas drilling.

A rally was held prior to a public meeting in Boston with the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on the administration’s proposed offshore oil and gas drilling expansion plan. At the rally, AG Healey’s Energy and Environment Bureau Chief Melissa Hoffer highlighted the devastation that the proposal could bring to the state’s $7.3 billion fishing industry – the third largest in the country – and its 1,500 miles of coastline that is marked by destination beaches in areas like Cape Cod, Cape Ann and Plum Island.

“This reckless and arbitrary plan threatens to destroy our multi-billion-dollar fishing and tourism industries and our vibrant marine and coastal ecosystems,” said AG Healey. “We will continue to stand with the thousands of fishing families and businesses up and down the Atlantic coast and here in Massachusetts in fighting to protect our coastline.”

AG Healey’s Office presented BOEM staff today with a letter to U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that once again states the office’s strong opposition to the agency’s effort to create a new five-year national offshore oil and gas leasing program that could open up all currently restricted offshore areas to drilling, including Atlantic waters off the Massachusetts coast.

AG Healey first announced her opposition to the plan in an August 2017 letter to BOEM with the support of the Northeast Seafood Coalition and the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association.

Earlier this month, AG Healey joined a coalition of 12 attorneys general in sending aletter to Secretary Zinke highlighting their united effort to stop the plan that threatens more than three million jobs across the country. AG Healey’s Office also joined with five other attorneys general in sending a letter to the Department in late January raising strong concerns with its plan to roll back regulations designed to reduce environmental and safety risks associated with offshore drilling following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.

More than 41,000 businesses and 500,000 commercial fishing families along the Atlantic coast oppose offshore oil and gas drilling because of the harm it poses to the coastal ecosystems and economies.

Opening up any currently restricted offshore areas in the Atlantic to drilling will also harm the state’s protected endangered species, including the North Atlantic Right Whale, which feeds in the waters off of Cape Cod and Nantucket, according to the AG’s Office. There are fewer than 450 of these critically endangered whales remaining in existence.

AG Healey has also called attention to the massive and long-lasting economic harm the Deepwater Horizon oil spill caused to Gulf Coast state economies, arguing that it illustrates how an oil spill off the Massachusetts coast will devastate the state’s ocean economy.

The plan will also increase harmful greenhouse gas emissions at a time when Massachusetts’ coastal communities are already investing significant resources to adapt to rising tides and storm surges—running directly counter to state policies that have made Massachusetts a national leader in addressing climate change.

            Opponents of the Trump Administration’s plan have also raised concerns with the public review and comment process surrounding the Department of Interior’s proposal. Less than a week after its release and outside of the decision-making process required by federal law, Secretary Zinke announced on Twitter that he was “taking Florida off the table for offshore oil and gas.” AG Healey’s Office and the coalition of attorneys general opposing the proposal argue that the Florida exemption is arbitrary and inexplicable and shows utter disregard for other states and the opposing views of thousands of local businesses, families and stakeholder groups along the Atlantic coast. 

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