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Congresswoman Louise Slaughter

Representing the 25th District of New York

Gillibrand, Slaughter Lead Bipartisan, Bicameral Effort to Exempt New York State from the Trump Administration’s Offshore Drilling Plan

February 8, 2018
Press Release
New York’s nearly 2,000 miles of tidal coastlines are important to the state’s economy and tourism, shipping, and construction industries

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter (NY-25), co-chair of the bipartisan House Great Lakes Task Force, today launched a bipartisan, bicameral effort to exempt the State of New York from the Trump administration’s push to open up oil and gas drilling off the coasts of the United States. More than 20 members of the House and Senate have joined this effort, asking Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to protect New York’s nearly 2,000 miles of tidal coastlines, which are important to the state’s economy and tourism, shipping, and construction industries. Secretary Zinke recently exempted the State of Florida from this dangerous initiative, and Gillibrand and Slaughter are asking for New York to receive the same treatment.

“We write to request that New York State be exempted from consideration of new oil and gas drilling leases as part of the recently announced Draft Proposed Program for the 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program.” said Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Slaughter. “New oil and gas development raises the possibility of a disastrous oil spill and increases risk of exposure to toxic chemicals and metals used in offshore drilling operations. These threats to New Yorkers’ coastal industries, public health, and unique natural environments are unacceptable and should not be ignored. The long-term health of New York is inextricably linked to protecting our ocean resources.”

The Trump administration’s recently announced Draft Proposed Program for the 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program would open up two lease sales for fossil fuel exploration in areas of the North Atlantic coast adjacent to New York State. This new oil and gas development raises the possibility of a disastrous oil spill and increases exposure to toxic chemicals and metals used in offshore drilling operations, which would risk the state’s coastal industries, public health, and unique natural environments.

Shortly after the administration’s drilling plan was announced, Secretary Zinke moved to exempt the State of Florida after a request from the state’s Republican governor. Secretary Zinke cited the state’s reliance on tourism and a key factor in the decision. Tourism is also especially important to New York’s economy, generating more than $100 billion in economic impact and supporting more than 910,000 jobs.

Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Slaughter (D-NY) were joined by Senate Minority Leader Schumer (D-NY), Representatives Zeldin (R-NY), Nadler (D-NY), Serrano (D-NY), Crowley (D-NY), Velazquez (D-NY), Meng (D-NY), Espaillat (D-NY), Higgins (D-NY), Suozzi (D-NY), Engel (D-NY), Tonko (D-NY), Stefanik (R-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jeffries (D-NY), Rice (D-NY), King (R-NY), Meeks (D-NY), Katko (R-NY), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Clarke (D-NY), Donovan (R-NY), Faso (R-NY), Lowey (D-NY).

A copy of the letter is included below:

February 8, 2018

The Honorable Ryan Zinke   

Secretary        

United States Department of the Interior      

1849 C Street NW     

Washington, DC 20240      

 

Dear Secretary Zinke:

We write to request that New York State be exempted from consideration of new oil and gas drilling leases as part of the recently announced Draft Proposed Program for the 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. This plan would open up two lease sales in areas of the North Atlantic coast adjacent to New York State for fossil fuel exploration.

New York’s almost 2,000 miles of tidal coastline are unique and important to our economy that includes industries such as tourism, shipping, construction, fishing and living resources. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, New York has the third largest ocean economy with 20,894 businesses, employing more than 350,000 workers, paying over $11 billion in wages, and contributing over $24 billion to the state’s gross domestic product.

New oil and gas development raises the possibility of a disastrous oil spill and increases risk of exposure to toxic chemicals and metals used in offshore drilling operations. These threats to New Yorkers’ coastal industries, public health, and unique natural environments are unacceptable and should not be ignored. The long-term health of New York is inextricably linked to protecting our ocean resources. For this reason our state has invested in improving water quality, restoring aquatic ecosystems, and developing renewable energy.

The Draft Proposed Program exposes our precious aquatic ecosystems to degradation and threatens our investments. Local voices across our state, including our Governor, have spoken up in opposition to this new offshore drilling plan, which we do not want and do not need. We respectfully request that local and state voices in New York seeking exemption from new oil and gas leasing be given the same consideration afforded to those in other states, such as Florida. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.       

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