Rhode Island State House

Opening nearly all of the United States’ coasts to oil and gas drilling would knock the United States backward in environmental protection and sustainability and could have catastrophic effects on the Ocean State, said Rep. Lauren H. Carson and Sen. Dawn Euer today.

The two Newport legislators spoke at an Environment Council of Rhode Island rally alongside Gov. Gina M. Raimondo at the State House protesting a federal plan to open up nearly all of the United States’ coasts to offshore oil and gas drilling.

Senator Euer joined me on What’sUpNewp Radio Edition on AM 1540 WADK before the rally to discuss the protest to the federal oil drilling plan and more (listen beginning at 9:36);

“I’ve worked in the environmental community for years, and I’m proud to stand against drilling off our coasts. I know here in Rhode Island, people do not want to experience the explosions involved in drilling, nor do they want to be the site of the next Exxon Valdez or Deepwater Horizon-type spill. Rhode Island is home to the nation’s first offshore wind farm, and we value the progress we have been making toward reducing polluting fossil fuel use in favor of renewables. Opening up nearly all U.S. coasts to offshore drilling is an enormous leap back to the time when our energy policies turned a blind eye to pollution and unsustainability. This plan takes Rhode Island and the United States in the wrong direction,” said Representative Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport).

Said Senator Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), “Offshore drilling could have disastrous effects on coastal communities like ours in Newport. Oil rigs, platforms, drilling, loud blasting, seepage and, of course, spills are all perils to the pillars of our local economy: boating, tourism, hospitality, boat building, commercial and recreational fishing, as well as our naval industry. This is a dangerous, dirty and destructive plan that would move us backward and puts Big Business ahead of small business, citizens, the environment and our sustainability on this planet.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced last month the Trump administration’s intent to lift Obama-era protections blocking drilling of about 94 percent of the outer continental shelf, opening up nearly all the United States’ coastline to new oil drilling.

To stymie any effort to drill off Rhode Island’s coasts, Representative Carson and Senator Euer filed legislation (2018-H 7250, 2018-S 2116) to ban the construction of oil terminals, platforms and any other equipment related to oil production onshore in Rhode Island, and also banning oil drilling within the first three nautical miles from the shore, which is under state jurisdiction. The bill is meant to provide disincentives to the oil industry to prevent drilling off Rhode Island’s coast.

The drilling plan has been denounced by coastal-state leaders from both parties, including Rhode Island’s entire congressional delegation and Gov. Gina Raimondo, who also spoke at today’s rally.

The rally was followed by a march to the Providence Marriott, where the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management held a public meeting on the plan. Outside the meeting, Rhode Islanders are holding a peaceful protest of the plan this afternoon.


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