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Environmentalists campaign against offshore drilling

Offshore drilling rig

Representatives of three environmental organizations got a sympathetic response from Town Board members at the October 10 work session.

Brian Langloss of Oceana, Aaron Virgin from The Group for the East End and Colleen Henn from the Surfrider Foundation appealed to the Town Board to express their opposition to offshore drilling in this area explaining that local governments need to join with New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in voicing opposition to plans from the federal government to conduct offshore drilling in waters off their shores.

Mr. Cuomo called it “another federal assault on our environment.”

The three encouraged the town to pass a resolution saying East Hampton, Southampton and Southold along with others have passed such resolutions.

For whales and dolphins in the Atlantic Ocean, this is a matter of life and death, Mr. Langloss said.

Such resolutions should be sent to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, he said.

The fishing community would be devastated if offshore drilling were to occur here where by 2020 he predicted an $8.7 billion loss to that community along with loss of 26,000 jobs.

Once an offshore drilling program is planned, it’s difficult to get it removed from the list, Mr. Langloss said, explaining that this is the time when action is necessary.

The first step for companies planning offshore drilling operations is to use a seismic airgun that blasts the ocean floor to determine where oil could be located. That step alone causes great damage to marine life, he said.

Should oil companies develop such sites, the area would be endangered by possible spills that are toxic to the water.

“People around here want clean water,” said Councilman Jim Colligan, acknowledging that it would be very destructive for local waters even in the exploratory stage of using seismic airguns to determine where oil might be found.

Other states, including Maine, Florida and Maryland have also protested the January call from President Donald Trump to expand offshore drilling. Similar calls have come from other Atlantic state officials and Governor Jerry Brown has also objected.

Other than Florida, several Gulf states have said they would entertain more offshore drilling off their coasts.

When Mr. Zinke announced a five-year plan back in January, he said the move would open 90 percent of the nation’s offshore reserves to development by private oil companies and maintained it would create jobs

Mr. Trump issued an executive order in April encouraging more drilling rights in federal waters he said would help the country achieve “energy dominance” in the global market.

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