Newport legislators Representative Lauren Carson (Democrat, District 75, Newport) and Senator Dawn Euer (Democrat, District 13, Newport, Jamestown) today decried President Donald Trump’s efforts to open up nearly all of the United States’ coasts to offshore drilling as a menace to Rhode Island’s environment and economy, and announced their own legislation designed to hinder efforts to drill of Rhode Island’s coast.
“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 Euer.
“Offshore drilling for oil in Rhode Island would inhibit and endanger some of the industries that are part of the bedrock of our economy in Rhode Island, and particularly in Newport,” said Carson. “It would also erode the progress we’ve made cleaning up Narragansett Bay and developing sustainable, clean energy sources, such as Deepwater Wind, the nation’s first offshore wind farm. This is nothing but a gift to big oil corporations, and we simply cannot let it happen off Rhode Island.”
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced earlier this month the 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 announced their intention to file legislation that would 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.
Save the Bay has also issued a statement calling the initiative “reckless” and recalling the 1989 grounding of World Prodigy on Brenton Reef and the 1996 North Cape oil spill off of Moonstone Beach, two local environmental disasters caused by the oil industry.
Next Thursday, January 25, there will be public comment taken on the proposal at the Marriott Hotellocated at 1 Orms Street in Providence from 3-7pm. It is expected that a large number of environmental and business groups will be out in force to oppose the plan. Individuals and groups are strongly encouraged to bring signs and their voices to the public comment meeting.
Governor Gina Raimondo and Rhode Island’s congressional delegation have come out in opposition to the offshore drilling plan. After the President’s announcement in April, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said,
“The only thing this order accomplishes is making a spectacle of putting dirty fossil fuel interests over the fishing, tourism, and other job-creating industries that rely on our oceans. There has never been commercial oil and gas production along the Northeast’s Atlantic coast and there never should be. If this administration tries, we will fight them tooth and nail. Along our southern Atlantic coast, even red state communities rose up against the Obama administration when it tried to green-light drilling; they are sure to do the same to President Trump. Our coastline and special places are too valuable — in Rhode Island and across America — to be sacrificed to fossil fuel company avarice.”
Senator Euer and Representative Carson say that the Rhode Island is no different than Florida in those regards, and also should not be subject to drilling.
[This piece is based on a press release.]