Sunday, August 05, 2018

Trump’s Offshore Drilling Plan Roils East Coast Communities

This could be the Virginia Beach oceanfront under Trump/GOP offshore drilling proposals.
Looking from my bedroom window, I can see across Hampton Roads harbor to the Norfolk Naval Base. Behind the house, we own 4.6 acres of tidal creek and marsh.  The tide that impacts these areas flow in through the mouth of Chesapeake Bay from the Atlantic Ocean all the way into the far reaches of our marshland.  A significant offshore oil spill could wreak horrific damage to not only our property, but to tourism in Virginia Beach and across the region and also devastate the local seafood industry.  The economic losses and property losses could extend into the hundreds of millions, if not more.  Yet, up and down the East Coast of America the Trump/Pence regime is pushing to open up huge areas to offshore drilling, putting local environments and economies at huge potential risk.  From Virginia on south, the opposition from local communities is near complete to the proposal.  The exception: Trump supporting Republicans like Virginia 2nd District Republican Scott Taylor who supported offshore drilling until recently (if, of course, Taylor's word can be believe - my vote is that it cannot since he votes with Trump 98% of the time) when confronted with his opponent, Elaine Luria's staunch opposition to potentially catastrophic offshore drilling.   If one opposes offshore drilling, the best way to stop it is to vote for Democrats like Elaine Luria and Tim Kaine and send Trump/Pence a strong message by flipping control of the House of Representatives (and ideally the Senate). Here are excerpts from The Atlantic that looks at Trump's dangerous effort to endanger our coastlines:

Carteret County sits in a region of North Carolina known as the Crystal Coast. It’s celebrated for its charming lighthouses, sun-bleached beaches, and relaxed atmosphere. The population is 89.9 percent white and staunchly Republican.
President Trump won the county in 2016 with 71 percent of the vote. But he has touched off an insurrection among the GOP faithful here on the issue of offshore drilling, which the county almost universally views as a threat to tourism. In that, Carteret is typical of areas up and down the Eastern Seaboard, where opposition to the Trump administration’s proposed plan to allow offshore drilling in nearly all U.S. coastal waters has become a top issue in the 2018 midterms. . . . . people are very aware “how important tourism, and the quality of life, is for our market,” he continued. “That really is our life blood.”
In Carteret County, six municipalities have already passed resolutions opposing offshore drilling and seismic testing, a controversial technique used to pinpoint petroleum deposits in the ocean floor. So have local governments in other states.
“Everyone is pretty much united” in opposition, Kies explained. And with the midterms approaching, Republicans up and down the ballot are breaking from the party line to oppose the president’s proposed plan.  
In Republican and Democratic areas alike, residents, legislators, and advocacy organizations held town halls, protested on beaches, and lobbied Washington. The military expressed concern that drilling would impact their operations off of Florida and Virginia. By the end of 2016, the Obama administration revised its plan, removing the Atlantic from the leasing program, and invoked an obscure law to ban drilling in much of the Atlantic and the Arctic.  
“It really was like a bipartisan thing,” said Alex Taurel, the conservation program director for the League of Conservation Voters. “It really translated into kind of changing the politics of offshore drilling in the Atlantic, over the course of the Obama era into this Trump era.”
The threat of an oil spill looms large; few have forgotten the damage the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster inflicted on the Gulf of Mexico. Since then, there have been 4,105 reported offshore explosions, fires, collisions, and spills, resulting in 13 deaths, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. In 2017 alone, there were 10 offshore spills.
“We could not recover from an oil spill in North Carolina,” said Bob Woodard, the chairman of the Board of Commissioners in Dare County. Woodard, who supports Trump, strongly opposes offshore drilling and says opposition in the county is “overwhelming.”
Trump issued an executive order revoking the Obama-era ban on Arctic and Atlantic drilling in April 2017, and in January of this year the Interior Department proposed a new five-year plan that included almost all American coastal waters.
Following these policy changes, offshore drilling opposition has only grown in the Southeast, and it’s front and center in some congressional campaigns this year. Candidates who’d previously expressed support for drilling now find themselves on the defensive—and have, in some cases, switched their positions.
One example can be found in Virginia’s 2nd congressional district, where Navy veteran and Democrat Elaine Luria is running to unseat Republican incumbent Scott Taylor. Her campaign has significantly featured her resistance to offshore drilling.
During Taylor’s first run for Congress in 2010, he supported drilling, before reversing that stance earlier this year. “I’m a representative,” Taylor explained to me. “In my district, all the localities passed resolutions [against drilling]. The tourism industry, the military has an issue, obviously various environmental groups, fishing industry, shellfish industry, are just about unanimously opposed to it.”
In South Carolina, offshore drilling and seismic testing have taken center stage in the first congressional district, which runs from the North Carolina border to Seabrook Island along the coast. It has one of the state’s most watched elections: Republican Representative Mark Sanford, who has long opposed offshore drilling, was defeated by primary challenger Katie Arrington, who framed herself as the Trumpian candidate.
But in June, she flipped her position (though she recently suggested she has always held that stance).
The change was a conspicuous one. Since June, five district mayors—all Republicans or independents—have endorsed her Democratic opponent in the general election, Joe Cunningham, due to his opposition to offshore drilling.
Even South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, who was the first and highest-ranking state official in the country to back Trump’s campaign in 2016, opposes drilling and seismic testing. “Opposition to offshore drilling is just about a political necessity these days,” said John Tynan, the executive director of Conservation Voters of South Carolina.
Offshore drilling is also a prominent issue in the Florida Senate race between Republican Governor Rick Scott and Democratic Senator Bill Nelson. Both candidates have emphasized their opposition, though Scott, like Arrington, has been accused of flip-flopping.
Though Zinke has signaled that the Trump administration’s revised plan will likely be scaled back, a second wave of backlash is anticipated if Atlantic drilling remains on the table. And depending on when the report is released, it could have even more consequences for the midterm elections.
Again, do not take chances.  Make sure you are registered to vote and vote Democrat in November, 2018.  Your region's economic safety could depend on it.

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