OCEAN CITY — Coastal advocates, elected leaders and concerned businesses created a human “line in the sand” across the Delaware and Maryland state line Saturday at Hands Across the Sand, an annual event in opposition to offshore drilling and seismic testing.
The Delaware and Ocean City chapters of Surfrider Foundation, Oceana and Assateague Coastal Trust were hosts of the event and speakers included Fenwick Island Mayor Eugene N. Langan and a representative from Senator Chris Van Hollen’s office. The location was chosen because both Maryland and Delaware are states officially against offshore oil drilling and seismic testing, and towns on both sides of the state line have passed resolutions against the practice.
“Offshore drilling puts our nation’s coastal communities, beaches, surf breaks and marine ecosystems at risk of oil spill disasters and ongoing offshore drilling impacts, said Marina Feeser, secretary of the Ocean City Chapter of Surfrider Foundation. “We all need to join forces to fight these plans and seek an energy plan that is based on sustainable and renewable energy.”
The Obama Administration considered the possibility of offshore oil and gas leasing in their five-year plan from 2017 to 2022. In the end, only a small amount of new oil drilling was allowed in this plan off Alaska and in the Western Gulf of Mexico. But it was in reaction to that proposal that scores of towns and cities along the coast passed resolutions against either offshore oil drilling or seismic testing or both.
“Fenwick Island has already passed three resolutions against offshore drilling, and has voiced opposition to BOEM [the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management],” said Langan. My operative word for this proposal is ‘never.’ Never stop fighting it and never let it happen.”
In 2017, the Trump administration announced plans for a five-year oil and gas leasing plan offshore that included 90% of US waters. Public meetings were held and a draft plan was created, but the administration experienced a setback recently with a court ruling from Alaska where a judge said a new plan cannot be put forth after one was just created by the previous Obama administration. Many coastal states and their representatives in Congress oppose this plan for oil drilling as they did for the previous Administration’s plan.
“From Governor Hogan to Governor Carney, from Ocean City and Baltimore, Md. to every coastal town along the Delaware coast, from fishing organizations to chambers of commerce, the people of Maryland and Delaware have made it abundantly clear that we stand united for our coast,” said Jacob Ross of Oceana. “Today, we are joining hands along the beach at the Maryland and Delaware line to tell the Trump Administration that we vehemently oppose offshore drilling and exploration for oil and gas anywhere in the Atlantic, and we will continue to fight to protect our coast from this radical offshore drilling program.”
Despite the setback to the Trump administration’s plan, businesses that depend on clean water and healthy beaches are concerned that the current proposal is still on the table. It has not been officially withdrawn. As such, coastal economies still feel threatened by oil drilling and spill, but also from rising seas.
“Climate change is harming all parts of our precious earth, not just the polar bears and penguins in our rapidly shrinking poles. Climate change is here and now. Here in Ocean City, here in Maryland, and here in the US,” said Sonya Stephen of the Citizens Climate Lobby. “Oil, and the oil industry, is one of the largest contributors to this crisis. Oil from offshore drilling is particularly harmful in its extraction phase and with its sonic blasting technology. Inevitable oil spills will directly affect and injure our ocean life, dousing them with our wasted, spilt oil.”