- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey: Don’t Drill Off Massachusetts
Boston — Joining a coalition of 12 attorneys general, Attorney General Maura Healey today called on U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to cease his plan to open up nearly all offshore areas – including waters off the Massachusetts coast – to oil and gas drilling.
“Not only does this irresponsible and careless plan put our state’s jobs and environment at risk, but it shows utter disregard for the will and voices of thousands of local businesses and fishing families,” said AG Healey. “My colleagues and I will continue to fight this plan.”
In their letter, the attorneys general stress that the proposed new five-year oil and gas leasing plan will “create multiple problems for nearly everyone who participates in or benefits from states’ coastal and maritime economies. At a minimum, three million jobs across America depend on the ocean, and coastal economy, which generated more than $350 billion in gross domestic prosperity of our states in 2014 alone.”
AG Healey first announced her opposition to the plan in an August 2017 letter to Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. The Northeast Seafood Coalition and the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association agreed with the AG that the Interior Department’s plan to expand offshore drilling threatens Massachusetts’ $7.3 billion commercial fishing industry – the third largest in the country – and more than 240,000 jobs in the state.
The plan could devastate the state’s robust recreation and tourism industries, according to the AG’s comments.
More than 41,000 businesses and 500,000 commercial fishing families along the Atlantic coast oppose offshore oil and gas drilling because of the harm it poses to their communities and the coastal ecosystem.
Opening up any currently restricted offshore areas in the Atlantic to drilling will also harm the state’s coastal environment and protected endangered species, including the Northern Right Whale, which feeds in the waters off of Cape Cod and Nantucket, according to the comment letter. There are only about 460 critically endangered Northern Right Whales remaining worldwide.
Today’s letter also notes that the plan will increase harmful, climate-warming emissions, hindering the state’s growing clean energy economy and our ability to meet emissions reductions mandated by the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act.
The attorneys general emphasize their strong concerns about the public review and comment process surrounding the Department’s plan. Less than a week after its release, Secretary Zinke announced on Twitter that he was “taking Florida off the table for offshore oil and gas.”
“Indeed, the Department has not described in any detail the reasoning for the apparent exemption granted to waters off the coast of Florida, nor for the failure to exempt areas off the coasts of other states,” the letter states. “Our states are on the record voicing significant concerns to the Department about oil and gas leasing. We are left to speculate about the basis for your choice, which you reached in such a short amount of time, outside of the legally mandated administrative process, and with minimal opportunity for public input.”
Today’s letter follows comments AG Healey and five other attorneys general submitted on Monday to the Department opposing its plan to rollback regulations designed to reduce environmental and safety risks associated with offshore drilling following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.
Joining AG Healey in today’s letter are the attorneys general of North Carolina, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Virginia.
Handling this matter for AG Healey’s Office are Assistant Attorney General Matthew Ireland and Special Assistant Attorney General Megan Herzog of the AG’s Environmental Protection Division.