Protecting Ocean Ecosystems
Massachusetts Ocean Stakeholders Stand United Against Offshore Drilling
Massachusetts ocean stakeholders were loud and clear this week: no drilling off our coasts! The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) under the Trump Administration is proposing to open nearly 90 percent of the U.S. continental shelf to oil and gas drilling. If BOEM moves forward with its proposal, the future of Massachusetts and New England hang in the balance.
Oil and gas drilling poses a great threat to our marine life, fisheries, coastal communities, and economy. That’s why fishermen, environmentalists, scientists, elected officials, beach-goers, and ocean-lovers are speaking out as a united front. First at a public event hosted by Senator Markey on Monday and then at a rally in Boston yesterday, leaders from around Massachusetts vehemently stated their opposition to BOEM’s proposal.
Among those representing fishing interests were Angela Sanfilippo of the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives, Sefatia Romeo Theken who is the Mayor of Gloucester, Beth Casoni of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, and numerous elected officials. Ms. Sanfillipo remarked that New England’s fishing industry currently fishes under the strictest regulations in order to protect the resource and provide sustainable seafood for the nation and the world. To now consider leaving those resources vulnerable to the impacts of drilling is nonsensical. She added that the Gloucester fishing industry was there to fight back offshore drilling in New England nearly forty years ago, and it’s still here to continue the fight.
And they are not alone. Environmental groups and residents around the state have pledged to fight the proposal. Additionally, the Massachusetts Senate recently passed a resolution that asks the U.S. Department of the Interior to “take all possible action to protect the waters off the coast of the Commonwealth and New England, in particular Georges Bank, Stellwagen Bank, and Jeffreys Ledge, and to exempt these areas from oil exploration initiatives.”
Senator Markey, and the entire Massachusetts congressional delegation, have also expressed their opposition to BOEM’s proposal. At his event on Monday, Markey said that he “will exhaust all legislative tools” to stop the proposal from moving forward.
The opportunity for stakeholders to speak at these events was crucially important because BOEM has not offered the same. The agency’s public “hearings” are set up more like a science fair than an actual meeting at which to lend comment – “all show, no substance,” said Senator Markey. The public would have benefited more from a formal public hearing where agency officials would have given a presentation on the proposal and stakeholders allowed to submit oral and written comment.
But for now, we’ll have to accept the meetings for what they are. That doesn’t mean, though, that we have to accept offshore drilling. BOEM’s meetings in New England are still ongoing, including one in Rhode Island tonight. If you live in Rhode Island, New Hampshire, or Maine, we encourage you to attend the meeting in your state. Most importantly, please submit your comments and say NO to offshore drilling!
February 28: Marriott Providence Downtown, 1 Orms St, Providence, RI 02904
March 5: Holiday Inn Concord Downtown, 172 North Main St, Concord, NH 03301
March 7: Augusta Civic Center, 76 Community Drive, Augusta, ME 04330