Today Sen. Dawn Euer joined legislators from seven other states in a united effort to protect our coasts from offshore drilling, announcing legislation that she and Rep. Lauren Carson will file to ban drilling off Rhode Island’s shore.
In March, after the release of the Trump Administration’s Proposed Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, over 225 legislators from coastal states, including Senator Euer and Representative Carson, raised their voices in opposition. Now, these states are taking action by introducing legislation that would limit any new offshore drilling capabilities off their coasts.
Senator Euer took part in a national announcement today via a conference call with national media outlets along with fellow state legislators from Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Oregon, all of whom will be filing similar legislation. The campaign is being coordinated by the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators.
“As the Ocean State, Rhode Island has a robust blue sector economy including ship building, fishing, sailing, tourism and more. The state and our institutions have invested incredible resources on forward-thinking coastal policy initiatives. Opening up coastal waters to offshore drilling is short-sighted and puts our economy at great risk,” said Senator Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) in a prepared statement.
Former interior secretary Ryan Zinke, who stepped down this month amid numerous ethics investigations, announced a year ago 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. A decision on the plan may be made by the end of this year.
In response, Representative Carson and Senator Euer swiftly filed the same legislation last year (2018-S 2116, 2018-H 7250). The legislation would ban the construction of oil terminals, platforms and any other equipment related to oil production onshore in Rhode Island, and would also ban oil drilling within the first three nautical miles from the shore, which is under state jurisdiction.
Many legislators in other coastal states filed similar bills last year, too. New Jersey became the first state to ban offshore drilling within state waters last year, followed shortly by actions in Delaware, Maryland, California and Florida. In 2019, a growing majority of coastal states have continued standing up to protect their coasts.
According to the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, the sponsors understand that an oil spill anywhere is an oil spill everywhere, impacting not just their constituents but everyone who depends on their coasts for income and recreation. Offshore drilling means more greenhouse gas emissions, exacerbating the effects of climate change on their communities.
“These state legislators are committed to protecting the coastlines of the United States, and the safety and livelihood of their constituents,” said Jeff Mauk, Executive Director of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators in a prepared statment. “They understand the economic and environmental importance of our coasts and are standing together against this proposal.”