Massachusetts Joins Several States to Support Offshore Drilling Bans

CCB MEDIA PHOTO: State Representative Dylan Fernandes (D)

HYANNIS – Legislators from several states, including Massachusetts, announced a collaborative effort to protect their regions from offshore drilling.

More than 225 lawmakers from coastal states have voiced their opposition to the Trump Administration’s proposed OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program.

Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket State Representative Dylan Fernandes joined legislators from Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon, New Hampshire and Rhode Island to announce legislative initiatives in each state to block offshore drilling in state waters now and in the future.

Connecticut legislators could not participate on the conference call but will also introduce a ban bill.

The bills being proposed by the different states range from a ban on drilling in state waters to imposing strict liability on the responsible parties for an offshore oil spill.

New Jersey was the first state to ban offshore drilling. Maryland took quick action to impose strict liability. Delaware and California quickly followed New Jersey with a ban of offshore drilling.

In November, Florida residents voted on a ballot initiative to add a drilling ban as a Constitutional Amendment.

Fernandes said the Trump Administration’s initiative to open offshore areas up to drilling is reckless.

“This decision for Massachusetts not only hurts our environment, but it could potentially devastate our tourism and fishing industries that drive our state’s vibrant Blue Economy,” he said.

Tourism in the state creates more than 100,000 jobs and generates tens of billions of dollars to its economy.

Massachusetts also has the most valuable fishing port in the country in New Bedford.

According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, the commercial fishing industry in Massachusetts supports over 80,000 jobs and adds more than $500 million towards the economy every year.

“The environmental impact and the economic impact from offshore drilling is the reason why we have bipartisan support opposed to the Trump Administration’s plan,” Fernandes said.

“Our Republican Governor has come out against it. Republican State Reps and State Senators in our state have come out against it and joined our Democratic colleagues in opposition to offshore drilling.”

Fernandes said it is just bad energy policy.

“There is no issue that will impact my generation, my children’s generation, and really the future of our coastal state’s more than that of climate change and sea level rise,” he said. “And we should be doing everything in our power to reduce climate change and transfer to a renewable energy economy.”

Fernandes said Massachusetts residents are not all opposed to offshore energy exploration.

The largest deep-water offshore wind development in the country, Vineyard Wind, will be constructed south of Martha’s Vineyard.

“We support that project,” he said.

Fernandes said Massachusetts is opposed to dirty energy that pollutes the air, impacts public health, contributes to sea level rise and could devastate our coast.

“If an accident happens with offshore drilling, that could devastate our economy, tourism and our Blue Economy,” he said.

Fernandes said the future is renewable energy sources and that his office, and the state will do everything in its power to stop the Trump Administration from advancing energy policies that hurt our economy, public health and the environment.

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