Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (Both D-MD), expressed their concerns about the President’s announcement today that the federal government would allow drilling off the shores of the East Coast, including off the coast of Maryland and its neighbors.
“Our nation desperately needs a comprehensive energy policy that will lessen our dependence on foreign oil. I applaud the President for putting forward such a plan that includes renewable sources, nuclear energy, and developing oil and gas resources on existing leases, but I object to expanding off-shore drilling. The oil companies already have over 60 million domestic acres of leased area that could be drilled today, but they sit idle. We need to explore and drill currently held lands before risking permanent damage to some of our nation’s most sensitive environmental areas, including the Chesapeake Bay,” said Senator Cardin, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and chairman of the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee. “Before drilling begins on any new areas, there must be comprehensive environmental and economic studies completed to assess the dangers to affected states. Spills happen with even the most responsible drilling, but spilled oil does not stop at the state border. The entire region must have a say before starting any activity that puts our fisheries, seafood and tourism industries in jeopardy.”
“We must do what we can to help Americans deal with rising energy costs without opening up our Atlantic coastline to drilling. Offshore drilling brings with it great concerns – from the potential of oil spills to the protection of our defense facilities located along the coast – for our national security. The coastal states that are on the front lines need to have to a say when it comes to decisions that have an impact far beyond one state’s coastline. I will continue to do what I can to protect these coastal areas, and the Chesapeake Bay, for future generations,” said Senator Mikulski.
“America consumes 25 percent of the world’s oil, but has just 3 percent of the world’s oil reserves. We cannot drill our way out of this. We need to use less energy and develop alternative and renewable energy sources,” Senator Cardin added.
An oil spill could create severe damage to coastal areas up to 500 miles from the location of the spill. Maryland only has about 35 miles of coastland. About two-thirds of that is the Assateague Island National Seashore – a resource of national significance. Most of the other one-third is Ocean City, which has some of the densest population in the state during the summer months. Neither Assateague nor Ocean City could tolerate an oil spill. Hundreds of miles of coastline could be affected by an oil spill getting into the Chesapeake Bay.