State in ‘stead­fast op­po­si­tion’ to off­shore oil and gas

The Calvert Recorder - - Community Forum - Mark Bel­ton, An­napo­lis The writer is the sec­re­tary of the Mary­land Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources.

This let­ter was sent to Donna Wi­et­ing, NOAA’s di­rec­tor of the Fish­eries Of­fice of Pro­tected Re­sources, and Kelly Ham­merle, na­tional pro­gram man­ager for the U.S. Bu­reau of Ocean En­ergy Management. A copy was sent to The Calvert Recorder.

On be­half of Gov. Larry Ho­gan, I wanted to re­it­er­ate the state of Mary­land’s stead­fast op­po­si­tion to the on­go­ing pur­suit of off­shore oil and gas ex­plo­ration, leas­ing, de­vel­op­ment and pro­duc­tion in the At­lantic Ocean. We are deeply con­cerned about the in­di­vid­ual and cumu- la­tive impacts to marine species and habi­tats that may re­sult from ge­o­log­i­cal and geo­phys­i­cal sur­veys in the At­lantic and the re­cent is­suance of in­ci­den­tal ha­rass­ment au­tho­riza­tions by the Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

We are not alone in this op­po­si­tion. Re­cently, all five mid-At­lantic gover­nors have made clear, both sep­a­rately and through our part­ner­ship on the Mid-At­lantic Re­gional Coun­cil on the Ocean that off­shore drilling threat­ens our coastal econ­omy and en­vi­ron­ment. The Mary­land mar­itime trans­porta­tion sec­tor it­self con­trib­utes $3.9 bil­lion to the U.S. econ­omy and pays $1.87 bil­lion in wages in Mary­land. The value of Mary­land’s com­mer­cial fish­eries landings in 2016 was $94.8 mil­lion. We can­not af­ford to jeop­ar­dize the nat­u­ral re­sources and economies of Mary­land for the mid-At­lantic re­gion.

We urge you to heed the con­cerns and pref­er­ences ex­pressed by many Mary­lan­ders and our re­gion that clearly state the off­shore oil and gas de­vel­op­ment poses far greater risk than we are will­ing to as­sume in the back­yard of our na­tion’s most iconic nat­u­ral places, the Ch­e­sa­peake and At­lantic Coastal Bays. As stated on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions, the state of Mary­land be­lieves that off­shore oil and gas de­vel­op­ment and ex­plo­ration are not in the best in­ter­est of our cit­i­zens, com­mu­ni­ties or in­dus­try. Ex­pos­ing any one of these groups to the en­vi­ron­men­tal risk posed by off­shore oil and gas de­vel­op­ment does not make sense from any per­spec­tive or un­der any sce­nario.

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