BANGOR (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- A small group of environmental activists gathered in Bangor Saturday to call on Maine's congressional delegates to express more opposition to offshore drilling.
Senator Susan Collins, Senator Angus King, and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree all previously voiced their stances opposing offshore drilling in New England, but the group called on them to prevent the practice along the entire Atlantic Coast.
"What we want is for them to increase their opposition and oppose offshore drilling in the entire Atlantic ocean, not just in New England," said Sarah Starman, a field organizer with Oceana. "We believe that drilling anywhere will affect everyone because oil spills don't respect state boundaries."
Senator Collins and King sent a joint letter to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke back in January -- expressing their stances against drilling in New England.
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree also voiced her opposition directly to the Secretary during an Appropriations Committee meeting in June.
“Countless Maine jobs depend on the health of the ocean. The Maine lobster, aquaculture, and tourism industries are among the many critical industries dependent on Maine’s pristine waters, and even a minor spill could irreparably damage the ecosystem in the Gulf of Maine," Senator Collins said in a written statement. "That’s why I oppose any effort to open waters off the coast of Maine to offshore drilling, which could negatively affect the health of Maine’s fisheries and other coastal resources, threatening to harm not only the environment but the state’s economy as well.”
Senator King also said during a floor speech in February:
“In Maine…we depend upon the coast,” Senator King said. “Tourism and visitation to our beaches and coastal communities are a billion dollar industry, the largest single employer in our state. So that is an enormous economic engine that is currently working, and running, and powering at least a portion of the economy in our state. And of course, on my tie, I have lobsters. A $1.7 billion a year industry in Maine and it promises to be even stronger as processing is developed. We also have an offshore fishing industry, shrimp, shellfish. It is enormously important. It is part of who we are in the state of Maine.”
“In my view, this is a pretty straightforward decision. What are the benefits and what are the costs? And the benefits are speculative at best, limited at best, and the costs are immediate and an enormous challenge for us. The costs of a single incident along our coast which affected our lobster industry or affected our visitor industry in the summertime, and in the spring or the fall, would be catastrophic for our state. So I hope the Interior Department will back off and enter into a process by which they make this decision by talking to the people who are most directly involved.”