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Offshore Drilling

GREENSVILLE/EMPORIA DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES

LOCAL BOARD MEETING

The Greensville/Emporia Department of Social Services Administrative Board will meet on Thursday, October 18, 2017, at 3:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Greensville/Emporia Department of Social Services located at 1748 East Atlantic Street.  The public is welcome to attend.

Activists Oppose Drilling Off Virginia’s Coast

    

    

Business, military, fishing and environmental leaders unite at the Four Points hotel by the Sheraton Richmond Airport to publicly oppose allowing oil and gas development off of Virginia’s coast as the Trump Administration’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management holds one of its first public hearings in Richmond. This opposition is joined by growing bi-partisan calls from Virginia leaders, including Governor Ralph Northam, Senator Tim Kaine and Congressman Scott Taylor, to remove Virginia from this newly proposed oil and gas leasing program.

By Brandon Celentano, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — About 75 people, including activists and lawmakers, rallied Wednesday against the Trump administration’s plan to allow drilling off Virginia’s coast, saying it would endanger the environment, the economy and military readiness.

The group held a press conference before the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s public hearing in Richmond on the issue. At the meeting, environmental and business leaders urged the agency to abandon the plan.

“We are here today to protect our waters, the Virginia coast and Atlantic Ocean from dangerous oil and gas development,” said Karen Forget, executive director of Lynnhaven River Now in Virginia Beach. “We’re here to make our voices loud and clear that we do not think offshore drilling is good for Virginia.”

U.S. Rep. Donald McEachin, a Democrat representing Virginia’s 4th Congressional District, said he was honored to speak alongside state officials, environmentalists and retired military and business leaders to express opposition to offshore drilling.

“The Trump administration’s decision to push for drilling in more than 90 percent of our nation’s coastal waters, including off the coast of our beautiful commonwealth, poses serious dangers to our economy and our environment,” McEachin said. “As we learned from the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, accidents can be unimaginably destructive, devastating the marine environment and potentially affecting the health of local residents.”

McEachin said an oil spill would have disastrous consequences for communities along the coast and around the Chesapeake Bay. Coastal fisheries, tourism and recreation support 91,000 jobs in Virginia and represent almost $5 billion of the state’s economy, he said.

Even without a spill, oil exploration alone would be damaging, according to Susan Barco, the research coordinator and senior scientist at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach.

“One of the tools they use is seismic testing, and that would occur regardless of if there is a spill or drilling for that matter,” Barco said. “Seismic testing produces very, very loud sounds in the ocean in order to understand what is below the strata or layers at the bottom of the ocean. Those sounds are very likely to negatively impact a lot of animals, particularly marine mammals.”

McEachin said the U.S. Defense Department has twice concluded that drilling off Virginia’s coast would compromise the Navy’s ability to effectively operate and train and that this would effectively reduce military readiness and compromise national security.

Gov. Ralph Northam and members of Congress from Virginia’s coastal areas, both Republicans and Democrats, oppose the U.S. Interior Department’s offshore drilling plan. Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms, a Republican, alsoopposes it.

Wednesday’s meeting at a hotel near Richmond International Airport was the only public hearing that the federal government plans to hold in Virginia to discuss the offshore drilling plan. That irked Northam.

“If the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management doesn’t hold additional hearings in the Tidewater region, I will be one of the few people from a Virginia coastal community who has had the opportunity to share my opposition to the administration’s plan to put our economy, environment, national security, and the health and safety of our residents at risk,” Northam said.

The Democratic governor said he will use every tool he can use to make sure no drilling happens off Virginia’s coast.

Herring Joins 11 State Attorneys General in Opposing Offshore Drilling

By George Copeland, Jr., Capital News Service

RICHMOND -- Twelve attorneys general, including Virginia’s Mark Herring, called on the federal government Thursday to halt its plans for gas and oil drilling off their coasts.

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, the attorneys general said the offshore drilling proposal “represents disregard for vital state interests, economies, and resources.”

Drilling off Virginia’s coast would pose a risk to the state’s marine environment, industries, revenue and military assets, Herring said.

"The Commonwealth of Virginia and our coastal communities have made it abundantly clear that we are not interested in putting our economy and citizens at risk as part of President Trump's giveaway to oil and gas companies," Herring said in his statement accompanying the letter.  “The federal government should not force this risk upon us.”

The letter follows Gov. Ralph Northam’s call last month that Zinke exempt Virginia from the drilling plans.  Like Herring, Northam, a fellow Democrat, cited ecological and financial costs.  Northam also noted that Zinke had exempted Florida at the request of that state’s Republican governor,  Rick Scott.

The language used by the attorneys general is more forceful, promising to challenge the proposal “using appropriate legal avenues.”

In addition to Herring, the letter was signed by attorneys general from North Carolina, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Oregon.

The letter also follows comments made by Herring and five other attorneys general to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement on Monday.  The group criticized the proposed revisions to the Interior Department’s regulation of safety systems for offshore gas and oil production.  

These regulations were put in place in 2016 after the 2010 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig led to the deaths of 11 people and the spilling of 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

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