Senator Markey Statement on Draft Obama Plan to Allow East Coast Drilling

WASHINGTON (January 27, 2015) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today released the following statement regarding the draft proposed plan by the Department of Interior to allow offshore drilling on the Atlantic coast. In August, Senator Markey led a letter with several of his colleagues to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell asking her to protect the East Coast from offshore oil drilling in their five-year oil offshore oil drilling plan.


Below is the statement of Senator Markey, a member of the Environment and Public Works and Commerce, Science and Transportation Committees:


“If drilling is allowed off the East Coast, it puts our beaches, our fishermen, and our environment in the crosshairs for an oil spill that could devastate our shores.


“Offshore oil spills don’t respect state boundaries. A spill off the coast of North Carolina could affect Massachusetts. We saw what happened after the BP spill. My state’s fishing and tourism industry can’t afford that kind of tragedy.


“Just a few years after superstorm Sandy, we saw a powerful storm race up the East Coast this week. My state is dealing with wind gusts topping 70 miles per hour. Storm surges of 30 feet. Why would we put drilling rigs off our coasts and put them in the paths of these storms that are getting supercharged by climate change?


“The oil industry is breaking records for oil and gas production, but they are still sounding like a broken record, saying that new areas are needed to drill. Big Oil is calling for opening the East Coast to drilling at the same time they are pushing for Congress to lift the four decade ban on exporting U.S. oil.


“Oil companies want to drill off our shores, then ship that oil away from our shores to foreign nations where they can get a higher price. It is outrageous to ask our citizens to risk an oil spill so foreign nations can fill their tanks with our oil.


“This proposed plan would open the East Coast to offshore drilling at a time when Congress has still failed to put in place the safety reforms recommended following the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. The independent, Blue-ribbon BP Spill Commission has given Congress a grade of D-plus on its legislative response to the spill. Nearly 5 years after the spill, we have still not enacted key drilling safety reforms such as raising the liability cap for an offshore spill and increasing the civil penalties that can be levied against oil companies who violate the law. We shouldn’t allow oil companies to get away with a slap on the wrist when they spill oil.


“In two days, the Interior Department will hold a lease sale on offshore wind off the coast of Massachusetts. That’s the direction we should be heading. There has never been a tragic wind energy spill. The same gusts that are battering my state could be powering a new generation of safe, clean energy jobs.”