Politics

10th State Joins Lawsuit Against Trump Administration’s Offshore Drilling Plan

Published on January 8, 2019 by Athena Pallas

A tenth state has joined a lawsuit against the Trump administration seeking to stop the administration’s plan for offshore drilling along the East Coast, which is just one part of the administration’s proposal to open almost the entirety of the U.S. coast to offshore drilling. That drilling would be prefaced by tests which themselves can be damaging to the environment and to wildlife, namely exploratory drilling and seismic testing. South Carolina is the tenth state to join the lawsuit, which is also noteworthy because it is the first state of the ten to have a Republican attorney general bringing suit.

South Carolina joins Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Virginia, all states with Atlantic coastline. Multiple environmental groups are also involved as plaintiffs in the suit. South Carolina’s attorney general, Alan Wilson (R) said of the grounds for the suit, according to The Hill, “Once again the federal government seeks to intrude upon the sovereignty of the state of South Carolina. Such action puts our State’s economy, tourism and beautiful natural resources at risk. We are bringing suit to protect the State’s economy and the rule of law…While oil and gas exploration could bring in billions of dollars, doing it without adequate study and precautions could end up costing billions of dollars and cause irreversible damage to our economy and coast.” According to The Hill:

South Carolina’s attorney general became the first Republican to join a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s offshore drilling plan Monday. Alan Wilson (R) joined nine other states seeking to block seismic testing and potential exploratory drilling off the East Coast…According to the states and environmental groups filing the suit in South Carolina’s district court, seismic testing could harm marine life and in turn tourism. South Carolina joins Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Virginia in the lawsuit. The Trump administration has proposed opening the entire Atlantic coast, along with the Pacific coast and all around Alaska, to drilling.

Another scandalous aspect of the Trump administration’s offshore drilling proposal is its exemption of the state of Florida, where Trump has political allies. The Trump administration’s stated reason for exempting Florida is the state’s heavy reliance on tourism, but that is true to some degree for nearly all states with ocean coastline. Multiple states have attempted to get answers from the administration about why other tourism-reliant states were not exempted if Florida was. After the administration failed to give answers, the state of New Jersey filed a separate lawsuit in October to get those answers. According to the Portland Press Herald’s October 10th edition (from Portland, Maine):

New Jersey, saying it is frustrated with a lack of answers, filed suit against the U.S. Department of the Interior on Wednesday (October 10, 2018) asking why Florida – and not the Garden State – was exempted from a Trump administration plan to expand offshore drilling. At issue is the administration’s January proposal to drill off the Atlantic coast, from Florida to Maine, and also open up waters off California and in the Arctic. Quickly, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said he would exempt Florida because it depends so heavily on tourism. New Jersey officials were outraged, given that the state has 130 miles of coastline that relies heavily on tourism, including its beaches in the summer and the year-round birding industry. Zinke pulled Florida from the list after meeting with its governor, Rick Scott, a Republican.

Lawsuits have continued to be the most effective means of slowing or reversing the Trump administration’s agenda. A large part of that agenda includes advocating fossil fuels while rolling back environmental regulations aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the primary source of which is the burning of fossil fuels. In promoting its pro-fossil fuel agenda, the administration and particularly Trump himself have denied the scientific consensus regarding human impacts on climate change, even the findings of government scientists, which is, frankly, a reckless and shortsighted approach to the future.

Featured image of Trump with Energy Secretary Perry via Wikimedia Commons.