Opponents of offshore drilling traveled to Richmond Wednesday to speak out against President Trump’s plan to open coastal waters for drilling. The public information session on the plan was the first and only in Virginia.
Laura Wood Habr owns a restaurant in Virginia Beach. She says clean beaches are the economic lifeline of the region.
“If they have a perception that they’re not clean, we’ve got a problem. Once you put oil rigs you can’t take ‘em away,” she said.
So she traveled to Richmond to speak against the Trump administration’s plan to let oil and gas companies drill in coastal waters. Habr is a founding member of the Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast, a group that insists offshore drilling is bad business.
President Trump says offshore drilling will help the U.S. become more energy independent, and create jobs. But John Uhrin, a Virginia Beach city councilman, doesn’t see how it benefits the local economy. The region depends on tourism, aquaculture, and the the military.
“We certainly don’t want to do anything that is going to have an opportunity to have those military assets leave the region because it would really be disastrous for our economy,” said Uhrin.
Additional Content: Trump Plan for Offshore Oil Sparks Anger in Virginia
Military leaders have repeatedly said drilling could interfere with training exercises.
Connie Gillette is with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. She and other staff have traveled the country hosting information sessions in the capital cities of each coastal state. People can talk one on one and ask questions to agency staff, and leave written comments.
BOEM has already received 75,000 comments. The deadline for commenting is March 9th.
Jasmine Burrell is a resident of Williamsburg who is against offshore drilling. Still, she says talking to the agency’s scientists was reassuring.
“And we need the politicians to really digest this information and to know it so that they can make sound decisions,” said Burrell.
Later this year, the US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke will decide which parts of America’s coastline could be open to offshore drilling.
Governor Ralph Northam has asked for an exemption for Virginia.