Tuesday, February 27, 2018

My Senate Resolution Calls for Protection of Massachusetts' Waters

Concerned about the potential for oil and gas drilling off of the coast of Massachusetts? Here is the text of the Senate Resolution that I sponsored with Senator Mike Barrett. The Senate adopted it unanimously. MEMORIALIZING THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR TO LIMIT THE PROPOSED EXPANSION OF THE NATIONAL OUTER CONTINENTAL SHELF OIL AND GAS LEASING PROGRAM AND TO PROTECT THE WATERS OFF THE COASTS OF THE COMMONWEALTH AND NEW ENGLAND. Whereas, on January 4, 2018, the United States Department of the Interior announced the publication of a draft proposed program in support of its national outer continental shelf oil and gas leasing program; and Whereas, as evidenced in executive order 13795, issued by the President of the United States on April 28, 2017, and order 3350 issued by Secretary Ryan Zinke of the United States Department of the Interior on May 1, 2017, publication of the draft proposed program is a critically important step in an effort by the federal government to open up offshore oil drilling in most coastal waters of the United States; and Whereas, to gauge public reaction and receive substantive input, the bureau of ocean energy management will conduct a public hearing in the city of Boston; and Whereas, the draft proposed program purports to open up approximately 1.5 billion acres of territory to oil drilling and exploration, including important areas off the coast of Massachusetts and New England, and would approve as many as 47 drilling leases, which would be the largest number of such leases, offered in the history of the United States; and Whereas, the administration’s actions threaten to jeopardize the environmental well being of the Commonwealth and, more particularly, its coastal communities and waters; and Whereas, the Commonwealth supports energy diversity, but the environmental and economic importance of the waters off the coast of the Commonwealth must be weighed against the benefits claimed for speculative offshore drilling; and Whereas, offshore drilling could threaten the enjoyment of recreational fishing and the vitality of the commonwealth’s fishing industry, which provides income and employment for commercial fishermen, vessel manufacturers, restaurants and other businesses throughout Massachusetts; and Whereas, according to the national marine fisheries service, the Massachusetts fishing industry generates 83,000 jobs and approximately $1.9 billion in income annually; and Whereas, there is the potential for irreversible damage to areas such as Stellwagen bank, Georges bank and Jeffreys ledge, which are among the richest fishing grounds in the world and are home to a diverse array of marine life; and Whereas, the Commonwealth possesses a pristine and bio diverse coastal zone, which is an essential driver of tourism for the commonwealth; and Whereas, the Commonwealth’s economy is reliant on tourism, which is its third largest economic sector and responsible for more than 100,000 jobs; and Whereas, inhabitants of, and visitors to, our coastal communities support many important business sectors ranging from boat manufacturing and repair to tourism activities such as whale and bird watching; and Whereas, the risk posed by speculative oil exploration initiatives to all of these economic and other existing and known benefits is not justifiable; and Whereas, on January 9, 2018, the United States Department of the Interior announced that the state of Florida would be exempted from the national outer continental shelf oil and gas leasing program; and Whereas, the Massachusetts senate opposes the United States Department of the Interior’s draft proposed program to vastly expand offshore drilling in America’s coastal waters off at New England; now therefore be it Resolved, that the Massachusetts senate hereby memorializes the United States 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 exempt these areas from oil exploration initiatives; and be it further Resolved, that copies of these resolutions be transmitted forthwith by the clerk of the senate to Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the United States Department of the Interior, Charles Baker, Governor of the Commonwealth and to the members of Congress from the Commonwealth.