Hogan, Atlantic governors ask to be exempted from offshore drilling

Erin Cox
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Gov. Larry Hogan and six other governors of Atlantic states have asked the federal government to be excluded from the Trump administration’s off-shore drilling expansion.

The bipartisan group of governors wrote to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke this week asking for the same exemption granted to Florida.

“Like Florida, each of our states has unique natural resources and an economy that is reliant on tourism as an essential driver,” the governors wrote.

Hogan spokeswoman Shareese Churchill said Hogan led the effort to send the letter, which was released to the media Friday. The letter was was signed by Hogan, Virginia Gov. Ralph S. Northam, Massachusetts Gov. Charles D. Baker, Delaware Gov. John C. Carney, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced a five-year offshore drilling plan to open as much as 90 percent of U.S. waters to gas and oil exploration, setting off a wave of requests from states asking to be exempted from the plan.

Hogan immediately objected, and directed Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh to investigate a possible lawsuit against any expansion off Maryland’s coast. Frosh had already threatened to do so back in April, when President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order to review Obama-era prohibitions on drilling.

The governors who signed this week’s letter, two Republicans and five Democrats, argued that environmental risks were too great to permit oil drilling in the Atlantic.

“Not only are ocean and oceanside resources at risk, but also nearby bays, estuaries, coastal communities, iconic natural areas, and ports,” the governors wrote. “The irreversible impact on ecosystems including marine mammals, fish, sea turtles, and other aquatic life that inhabit the ocean offshore is gravely concerning, as is the potential risk and harm to our state’s economies, our natural resources, our military installations, and our residents.”

Frosh said Friday that if the state is not granted an exemption, he wants Maryland to lead a national lawsuit challenging the drilling expansion.

ecox@baltsun.com

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