VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — There’s one week left for people to submit feedback to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) regarding President Trump’s controversial plan to expand offshore drilling off the Atlantic coast.
“It makes me nervous,” said Karen Forget, executive director of Lynnhaven River Now. “Virginians have spoken loudly and clearly that we do not want offshore drilling.”
Forget and other environmentalists were joined by local business owners and city leaders at the Virginia Beach Convention Center on Thursday. The group says the renewed effort to lease waters off the coast, including Virginia, would negatively impact tourism, the environment and the military.
Laura Wood Habr, owner of Croc’s 19th Street Bistro, says day-to-day operations of an oil field would impact beach visitors and the fishing industry, which provides food to her restaurant.
“We spend a lot of money on marketing our beaches as being really clean, and to have even little rubs of oil washing up as an everyday routine that impacts the visitor, the experience,” she said.
Governors along the coast, including Gov. Ralph Northam, have formally opposed oil and gas drilling along the East Coast.
Councilman John Uhrin introduced a resolution that passed in January asking President Trump to exempt Virginia like he did for Florida.
“If [Florida has] an advantage in terms of their military operations not having to work around the oil rigs, that certainly strengthens their argument in terms of being able to take some of our assets, which is a terrible thing to happen.”
Supporters say increasing domestic oil production would boost the economy by adding thousands of jobs and further decreasing the United States’ dependence on foreign oil.
Forget says the exploration puts the water in Tidewater at too much risk.
“It’s not compatible with the lifestyle that we desire to have with clean beaches and clean waterways.”
To submit feedback to BOEM, click here. The deadline is March 9.
The administration’s plan will be revised based off the feedback, which will be followed by a 90-day public comment period before Congress votes on a five-year plan for oil and gas drilling leases.