Following President Trump’s announcement that he will open nearly all offshore
areas to drilling, U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI) and U.S. Senator
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the New England Coastal Protection Act
today to permanently prohibit oil and gas drilling off the coasts of Rhode
Island, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. The legislation
introduced today is co-sponsored by U.S. Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) and
U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), as well as every U.S. Senator and member of the
U.S. House from New England coastal states.
“Rhode Island’s coastline supports
good-paying jobs and economic growth in every city and town across our state.
President Trump is putting these jobs and the security of our natural resources
in jeopardy,” said Cicilline. “Rhode Islanders do not want oil and gas drilling
just a few miles off our shores. I’m proud to be introducing this bill with
Senator Whitehouse, Congressman Langevin, Senator Reed, and so many of our
colleagues who are fighting back against the Trump administration’s reckless
“The Trump Administration won’t be
following through on its reckless choice to allow oil and gas drilling off
Rhode Island’s coast if New England’s bipartisan members of Congress have
anything to say about it,” said Senator Whitehouse. “For the potential
gain of corporate fossil fuel interests, offshore drilling would threaten the
Ocean State’s coastal economy and jobs in our state, including fishermen and
the thousands of people employed in tourism and recreation along Narragansett
“The President’s decision to allow
drilling off our coast is a reckless attack on our way of life. Rhode Island is
the Ocean State, and we rely on our waters to support tourism, commercial fishing,
boating and other industries to drive our economy,” said Congressman Langevin.
“This Administration is putting the interests of fossil fuel companies ahead of
the health and safety of our coastal communities. I’m proud to join my New
England colleagues in uniting against this ill-conceived offshore drilling
On January 4th, the Department of Interior announced plans
to significantly expand offshore oil and natural gas drilling leases in the
Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Five days later, however, Interior Secretary Ryan
Zinke announced that Florida would be exempted from offshore drilling
proposals. Florida Governor Rick Scott (R-FL) is reported to be the White
House’s hand-picked candidate for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Senator
Bill Nelson (D-FL).
According to the Conservation Law Foundation, oceans and
coastal industries, including tourism, fishing, and recreation, generate more
than $17.5 billion in New England annually. Expanding drilling in the Atlantic
would harm New England’s vital industries, and significantly increase the
chances of environmental disaster in the region.