Governor Kaine to Decide Fate of Virginia Coastline; Plan to Drill off Virginia's Shores Could Jeopardize Tourism, Wildlife, Recreation
Plan to drill off Virginia's shores could jeopardize tourism, wildlife, recreation(4/6/2006) - Washington, D.C. – Gov. Tim Kaine (D) is expected to make a decision on a state plan that would permit oil and gas drilling off the Virginia coast. The governor has until Monday to veto the bill, but is expected to announce his decision as early as Friday.
The U.S. Mineral Management Service has
proposed that a portion of the outer continental shelf be opened to exploration,
sale and development by the oil and gas industry, with drilling rigs being
constructed as close as 30 miles from the Virginia shore. The legislation
sitting on the governor's desk gives oil companies access to Virginia's shores
should a 25-year-old coastal moratorium be lifted or modified by Congress.
Legislation lifting the moratorium has been introduced in the House of
Representatives and is expected to be voted on later this spring.
"We urge Governor Kaine to veto this legislation,” said Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife."The national moratorium on off-shore drilling was put in place to protect America's coasts from unnecessary harm.”
Nine national environmental organizations, including Defenders of Wildlife, have signed a letter to Governor Kaine calling on him to veto the off-shore drilling bill.
"Virginia's coast in particular is extremely important in terms of its role as both a tourist attraction and a haven for wildlife. The barrier islands along the Virginia shore are designated as shorebird reserves, national landmarks, wildlife refuges and seashores,” said Schlickeisen. "Why would the state consider exposing some of their greatest natural attractions to this type of destruction?”
The oil and gas industries have always
been under scrutiny for their environmental records, but with the largest spill
in the history of the North Slope of Alaska still being cleaned up, a concerned
public is recognizing that an environmental disaster is a very real
"The environment isn't the only thing that would suffer if Gov. Kaine signs this bill,” continued Schlickeisen. "Virginia's economy starts at the coast, and nearly two-thirds of the commonwealth's residents call the coastal zone home. Tourism would surely be affected if polluted water and greasy sand were all that Virginia had to offer.”
In 2004, Gov. Kaine said, "Virginia is well known for its estuarine and coastal resources, including the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic coast of the Eastern shore and Virginia Beach . . . The contribution to the Commonwealth's economy from its coastal resources is significant through tourism, recreation, commercial and sport fisheries, wildlife enjoyment, and other activities."
"The pristine and popular coast Governor Kaine just recently so eloquently described is now in jeopardy. Only he has the power to ensure that the Virginia coast remains protected,” added Schlickeisen.
Defenders of Wildlife is recognized as one of the nation's most progressive advocates for wildlife and its habitat. With more than 490,000 members and supporters, Defenders of Wildlife is an effective leader on endangered species issues.
Contact(s):William Lutz, (202) 772-0269