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Jan 9, 2018 3:01 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

New Offshore Drilling Proposal Could Hit Close To Home; Zeldin Voices Opposition

Lee Zeldin
Jan 10, 2018 9:23 AM

The Trump administration has proposed opening up oceans off nearly all of the United States coasts to oil and gas drilling, and rolling back protections instituted by the Obama administration—provoking a bipartisan backlash locally from both U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin and a cohort of environmentalists.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program last Thursday, January 4. The plan includes 47 potential lease sales by the federal government for drilling sites from 2019 to 2024: 19 sales targeting the Alaskan coast, seven in the Pacific Region, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, and nine in the Atlantic Region. Two of the latter potential sales are in the North Atlantic region, which encompasses Long Island.

Tracey Blythe Moriarty, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s deputy chief in the public affairs office, was quick to point out that the plan is still in its early stages.

But Mr. Zeldin’s office and others already are pushing back against the proposal.

Katie Vincentz, Mr. Zeldin’s communications director, said in an email last week: “The congressman supports an energy strategy that secures American energy independence and drives down costs for Long Islanders. However, the congressman does not support drilling in the waterways off the coast of our district.”

Environmental leaders were even stronger in their denunciations of the policy.

“This is an expansive assault on our oceans that will not spare a single region,” said Franz Matzner, director of federal affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit based in New York.

“Offshore drilling carries huge risks. Oil spills don’t follow the lines of a map, and a spill anywhere on the Atlantic Coast could decimate the entire Atlantic Coast,” he said, targeting the administration’s possible argument that the impact of any drilling will be limited.

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, an organization with offices throughout New York as well as Connecticut, shares Mr. Matzner’s concerns.

“This risky scheme opens the floodgates to dirty and dangerous offshore drilling, threatening Long Island coastal economies that rely on clean and healthy oceans,” she said in an email on Monday. “This radical offshore drilling free-for-all is a policy that puts energy industry profits over protection of the public.

“Instead of promoting renewable energy, this president is resurrecting fossil fuels,” she continued. “It’s an abysmal proposal.”

The proposal comes on the heels of the expiration of the 9-cent oil barrel tax, which primarily funded the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, an emergency fund for cleaning up oil spills. It was created in 1990 in the wake of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, which released 10.8 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound in Alaska. The tax was renewed in 2005 as part of the Energy Policy Act—but there seem to be no congressional plans to extend the tax currently.

In addition, the Trump administration recently announced intentions to roll back regulatory protections put in place by the Obama administration after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History estimates that 200 million gallons of oil bled into the water in the wake of that accident. The Obama administration followed up by imposing safety checks and equipment standards on oil rigs—regulations which the Trump administration plans to eradicate, calling them “unnecessary burdens” on the oil industry.

Kara Jackson, a spokeswoman for The Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit based in Arlington, Virginia, adds these decisions to her growing list of concerns.

“The risks that our vulnerable ocean and coastal resources and communities would face under this proposal would be exacerbated by the department’s recently announced proposal to roll back safeguards put in place after the historic Deepwater Horizon oil spill,” she said on Monday. “The Nature Conservancy in New York stands with many of our state and local leaders who have already come out in opposition to this proposal.”

Groups in the oil industry applaud the move, including the Washington, D.C.-based National Ocean Industries Association.

“With 94 percent of our nation’s outer continental shelf currently and unnecessarily off limits to oil and gas leasing and exploration, NOIA welcomes the bold and broad offshore leasing proposal released today by the Department of the Interior,” the association said in a press release.

Ms. Moriarty said that the process is currently in a two-month public comment stage following the release of a draft plan, which will end on March 9. The department has set up public meetings and “virtual public houses” for interested parties’ participation.

After March 9, the department will write up its proposed program and publish a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, or PEIS. “We don’t know how many comments we’ll get, but we think we’ll be able to make public the proposed program in late 2018,” Ms. Moriarty said on Monday.

That unveiling is followed by a three-month public comment period, after which the department will complete a proposed final program and a final PEIS. The plan then goes to Congress and the president for consideration.

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Say NO to off shore drilling!! ����
By toes in the water (643), southampton on Jan 9, 18 4:11 PM
2 members liked this comment
When you vote Republican you get Trump, Zeldin and BIG OIL. Don't let Trump/Zeldin fool you .. they will sell us out in a heart beat. Republicans don't LOVE our country they just love MONEY! ZELDIN should resign NOW!
By SpeedRacer (99), Southampton on Jan 9, 18 5:10 PM
You care to describe ''small oil"?
By SlimeAlive (872), Southampton on Jan 9, 18 5:50 PM
1 member liked this comment
Except not Florida. Guess raising money with Bannon not a good look for our Congressman.
"I support the governor’s position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver,” Mr. Zinke said in a statement after his meeting at the Tallahassee International Airport. “As a result of discussion with Governor Scott’s and his leadership, I am removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms."
By dfree (530), hampton bays on Jan 9, 18 8:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
Good one, Slime. Of course there is no small oil, hasn’t been for a very long time.

So here’s Republican Lee Zeldin at odds with the Republican Trump administration over two big issues — the Trump tax package and offshore drilling. Some say the Honorable Lee got permission from Speaker Paul Ryan to oppose the axing of the state and local tax deduction because they didn’t need his vote anyway. I’ll buy that.

Likewise, SpeedRacer’s probably ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1847), Quiogue on Jan 9, 18 8:27 PM
"Little Lee"?--I like that!

Sounds like a term the VSG (very stable genius) would use.

Probably going to make a big appearance in the upcoming election
By aging hipster (155), Southampton on Jan 10, 18 6:24 AM
There are no "safe" levels of a carcinogen.
By Mr. Z (10222), North Sea on Jan 9, 18 8:50 PM
Sunlight is a carcinogen
By dnice (2339), Hampton Bays on Jan 9, 18 9:40 PM
No, UV light is. Higher bands which will kill you are deflected by earth's magnetic field.

Anything you can make from petroleum, you can make from hemp. It has the potential to replace it, but "Big Oil" has derailed it for over eighty years.
By Mr. Z (10222), North Sea on Jan 10, 18 7:19 AM
1 member liked this comment
Evil oil....or not a viable alternative... We don’t have the capability of growing that much cannabis. When we are talking about worldwide production of 96 million barrels of crude oil per DAY, it just isn’t possible to grow and refine that much of a crop. The other factor is that we make an incredible variety of products from crude oil. Many of them are not compatible with production from cannabis.
By Po Boy (1968), Water Mill on Jan 10, 18 7:31 AM
1 member liked this comment
Left leaning thought is a carcinogen.
By pw herman (1007), southampton on Jan 10, 18 8:09 AM
1 member liked this comment
Forgive me Z, I thought UV rays were part of sunlight.
By dnice (2339), Hampton Bays on Jan 11, 18 11:15 AM
Maybe we can get Alec Baldwin to run...or better, Billy.
By dfree (530), hampton bays on Jan 9, 18 9:00 PM
And eastern Long Island isn’t also “heavily reliant on tourism” as Secretary Zinke said of Florida in dfree’s report above? So why shouldn’t Long Island also be exempted and protected from new offshore drilling, as Florida is? Because Florida delivers votes for the GOP and New York/Long Island doesn’t, that’s why. Lee zeldin doesn’t have the juice to change that math, not even close.

But notice, the world is turning upside down here. Republican ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1847), Quiogue on Jan 10, 18 8:36 AM
1 member liked this comment
For all those right wingers who said, drill, drill, drill in South Dakota, how do you feel now when it's in your backyard? For a little short sighted fool's gold, you compromise our whole waterfront. See what one little oil spill will do to your business or your real estate values, notwithstanding why you live and enjoy the east end waters and beaches.
By Mets fan (1154), Southampton on Jan 10, 18 8:55 AM
Does drilling in South Dakota offer the same risks as offshore drilling? It does not. It sounds like you're simply against drilling of any kind. You are free to turn in the keys to your Ford Pinto, just make sure you ride your bicycle with traffic, but riding on Main Street and Jobs Lane is forbidden.
By Po Boy (1968), Water Mill on Jan 10, 18 9:15 AM
So your okay if we have a little oil spill off our coast? Stupid is really contagious on the right.
By Mets fan (1154), Southampton on Jan 10, 18 11:34 AM
1 member liked this comment
Mf, name calling is so inspiring.
By dnice (2339), Hampton Bays on Jan 10, 18 12:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Mets fan (1154), Southampton on Jan 10, 18 8:23 PM
I care! Kindness matters so pass it on. Name calling is not necessary. Get ur point across but be an adult about it.
By toes in the water (643), southampton on Jan 11, 18 7:14 AM
And MF , while I disagree with name calling, I do agree with ur comment on the drilling In South Dakota. Polluting our waters is not worth the chance!!
By toes in the water (643), southampton on Jan 11, 18 7:26 AM
it's nice to know we can actually agree on something!
By Mets fan (1154), Southampton on Jan 11, 18 8:59 AM
"So your okay if we have a little oil spill off our coast?"

No, I'm saying drilling in South Dakota is very different than drilling off shore and contains many more risks. I'm just not sure how being in favor of one, automatically makes you in favor of the other in your mind.
By Po Boy (1968), Water Mill on Jan 11, 18 12:57 PM
Wish I could have seen what you posted Mf but the comment police got to it. I'm sure it was well thought out and insightful.
By dnice (2339), Hampton Bays on Jan 11, 18 3:58 PM
For the record, the previous comment is from the Wall Street Journal, so it's real news. And we have a Town Supervisor who has proclaimed "clean" energy but I have yet to see a solar electric installation -- hopeful that the multi million dollar bathrooms in Good Ground Park will have that. Drilling for oil off the coast of Long Island is a terrible idea but so was building a nuclear power plant in Shoreham -- and thanks to the Cuomo I administration we're still paying for that.
By dfree (530), hampton bays on Jan 10, 18 10:20 AM
This is fun too:
Alsup was tasked with, among other things, determining whether it would serve the public interest to leave DACA in place while litigation over the decision to scrap the program proceeds. On this point, he had an easy answer: Trump himself had expressed support for DACA on Twitter in September, just days after Department of Homeland Security officials rescinded it.

“Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, ...more
By dfree (530), hampton bays on Jan 10, 18 10:26 AM

If yesterday's photo-op of a "meeting" doesn't convince the cultists that the Dotard-in-Chief has no earthly idea what he believes or understands re: policy (except that which benefits him), and that his utterances and pronouncements are worth spit, then all is altogether lost. Is it not obvious to you by now that he is a total puppet of the oligarchy, and is being watched by minders and kept in place simply to do their bidding? When will you cultists realize/admit how seriously ...more
By June Bug (2105), SOUTHAMPTON on Jan 10, 18 1:14 PM
3 members liked this comment
June Bug ... I read this posting on the net, it was attached to an article about yesterday's photo-op "meeting" ...

George Washington "I can not tell a lie".
Trump "I can not tell the Truth".
Trump Supporters "I can not tell the difference".

On to November and we can vote out "LITTLE LYING LEE

By SpeedRacer (99), Southampton on Jan 10, 18 1:48 PM
1 member liked this comment
IF TRUMP WAS PAUL REVERE: "The British. Who are some of my
best friends. They're coming, and going, and it's all very exciting."
By dfree (530), hampton bays on Jan 11, 18 8:33 AM
I stole that last bit from Ann Coulter, one of President Trump's biggest supporters. His constituency is turning on him, which means our Congressman is way out in the political Siberia. Which is in Russia.
By dfree (530), hampton bays on Jan 11, 18 9:23 AM
Not sure how that's so, but I'd suggest the President is taking good care not to poison the discussion by keeping options open. It's politics, and a process. The Honorable Mr. Zeldin is doing the job he was hired to do on behalf of his constituents.
By Po Boy (1968), Water Mill on Jan 11, 18 11:10 AM
We all want to be energy independent, but this is far from the right way to go. Obama made plenty of mistakes and he was no angle, however, conservation ... solar, wind and ego-thermal are the energy routes we truly need to explore. I suggest that we look into burning trump and his cohorts as fossil fuel.
By jediscuba (36), Suthampton on Jan 11, 18 11:35 AM
1 member liked this comment
Glade to no Obama was strait and not an angle.
Also if ego-thermal is a energy sorce, the guy in the White House could power half the cuntry...
By bird (690), Sag Harbor on Jan 19, 18 8:39 PM