Cicilline, Whitehouse Introduce Bipartisan New England Coastal Protection Act

Jan 11, 2018

WASHINGTON – 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 agenda.”

“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 Bay.” 

“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 proposal.”

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.