From the travel and tourism industry to the United States Navy to environmental groups, there’s a bipartisan coalition opposed to offshore drilling. Trump’s decision to end the offshore drilling ban is a threat to Virginia’s economy and its citizens must ensure that the state’s tourism, fishing industries, and military installations are protected. Drilling would be a critical threat as an oil spill off the Atlantic coast could be devastating to these economic engines and ocean ecosystems.
Before drilling begins, seismic surveys for potential oil and gas deposits must be conducted using high-powered airguns. The data collected from the echoes that bounce back from the seismic testing is used to estimate the amount and depth of oil and gas located deep beneath the ocean floor. These blasts are as loud as a jet taking off and multiple surveyors have applied for Incidental Harassment Authorization permits to conduct the seismic blasts. The purpose of these permits is to limit harm to the 34 different species of dolphins, porpoises, and whales that migrate up and down the Atlantic Coast. The low-frequency sounds from seismic testing can travel hundreds of miles underwater which could disrupt feeding and breeding and perhaps permanently damage the whales’ hearing. It’s estimated that there are only about 450 of the North Atlantic right whale species left. Surveyors conducting seismic testing for multiple companies could significantly amplify the impact on marine mammals and could harm the ocean ecosystems.
More than 60 environmental groups along with many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle oppose Trump’s proposal of a five-year plan for energy leases in federal waters. Last summer, the Virginia Beach City Council passed a resolution opposing offshore oil and gas drilling citing deep concerns over the potential negative consequences and risks to local economies.
In 2011, the Navy also raised concerns about plans for a sale of an oil and gas lease because of potential interference with training exercises and munition tests off Virginia’s coast. Hampton Roads’ economy is dependent upon the military and the Navy’s concerns should carry considerable weight.
"The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has long maintained that offshore drilling creates a new pollution source, one capable of significant, even devastating environmental damage from drilling, transportation, storage, or processing. With vast ecological resources present near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, the economic and ecological damage from a spill could devastate the livelihoods of commercial watermen, aquaculturists, and those in the recreational fishing and tourism industries." This statement from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation clearly expresses a convincing argument for the citizens of Hampton Roads to oppose offshore drilling and to stand united in preventing drilling off the Atlantic coastline.
There is time for citizens to get involved to prevent this proposal from becoming policy. According to Bloomberg.com, today’s price of oil is $61.44 per barrel and with the reduced global demand for oil, is additional offshore drilling necessary? Citizens of Hampton Roads need to contact their legislators at all levels; local, state, and federal to stop offshore drilling off the coast to protect the state’s economy and environment from offshore drilling.