Regunberg to introduce resolution in opposition to offshore drilling
Calls on the House to take a firm line against the Trump administration’s plan to allow gas and oil extraction off of Rhode Island’s coast
STATE HOUSE – Rep. Aaron Regunberg plans to submit a resolution to the House of Representatives today to unify the body in opposition to the Trump Administration’s plan to open nearly all of the country’s coastal waters to oil and gas drilling.
“Our environment is our state’s greatest asset,” said Representative Regunberg, who has been outspoken on environmental and climate issues and was one of the first state elected officials to come out against the proposed Burrillville power plant in 2015. “Ask the thousands of men and women employed in the tourism, fishing, and marine industries. We are not going to sit back as a president who is in the pocket of Big Oil opens up our waters for outside companies to come in and start drilling. The president’s proposal is a disaster that would scar our state. As we have seen in the numerous offshore drilling catastrophes of the past decades, this extraction would ruin our beaches, disrupt our industries, and endanger our marine life.”
The resolution states:
“...The threat to the economies of our coastal states and to the safety of those who work in the fisheries industry are too grave to allow these plans to proceed. It is time for everyone, including all Rhode Islanders, to lend their voices in opposition to the President’s offshore drilling policies and in support of our country’s vital natural resources and for those whose livelihoods depend upon the vigorous protection of our coastal waters; now, therefore be it RESOLVED, That this House of Representatives of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations hereby expresses opposition to President Trump’s decision to allow offshore drilling in most of America’s coastal waters....”
Less than a week after announcing the plan, Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke gave the state of Florida an exemption, taking its coastal waters “off the table” for drilling. Zinke said that he recognized the unique importance of the coast to Florida’s economy and respected Governor Rick Scott as a “straightforward leader that can be trusted.” Regunberg, and lawmakers from across the country pointed out the political favoritism apparently at play. Governor Scott, a Republican, is expected to run against Democratic Senator Bill Nelson this year, and offshore drilling is widely unpopular among Florida voters.
“Florida’s coastal waters are no more precious than our own,” said Representative Regunberg. “Handing only them an exemption as a political favor to their governor is crony politics, plain and simple. This resolution demands that the importance of protecting our coast is recognized, and that the choice of Rhode Islanders is respected.”
The resolution underscores the vital role that Rhode Island’s coast and ocean play in the economy. A 2014 industry report conducted by IHS Consulting reported that tourism was the fourth-largest economic sector in the state, accounting for approximately 45,000 jobs—nearly 10 percent of the state’s total employment, and producing $2.8 billion, 5.3 percent of the state’s gross product. A 2010 report from the Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program found that Rhode Island’s fisheries industry employed 4,968 individuals.
Gov. Gina Raimondo and Rhode Island’s congressional delegation have come out in opposition to the offshore drilling plan. If passed, Regunberg’s resolution would define the House of Representatives’ position on the issue.
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903