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Dear Secretary Zinke,

I am writing to express my strong opposition to the inclusion of new lease sales in the Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific oceans, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico, in the Draft 2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program). This draft plan prioritizes oil and gas industry interests above coastal communities that would be most greatly impacted by offshore drilling. I urge you to remove proposed new lease sale areas from consideration in the National OCS Program.

Expanding offshore drilling into currently unleased areas of America’s Arctic, Pacific, Atlantic and Eastern Gulf of Mexico waters puts coastal residents, businesses, and our oceans at grave risk. Offshore drilling leads to increased risk of devastating oil spills that impact beaches, wildlife, ecosystems, and all of the businesses that depend on a clean coast. Ocean-based industries like fishing, tourism and recreation generate 2.2 million American jobs and $108.37 billion in GDP in U.S. coastal states, according to the National Ocean Economics Program’s 2016 report. The National OCS Program should reflect the needs of hard-working Americans that rely upon a clean and healthy coast.

Moreover, the governors of Florida, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Oregon and Washington oppose new leasing off their coast. More than 150 municipalities in East and West Coast states formally oppose offshore drilling and/or exploration. More than 41,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families have also joined this overwhelming chorus of voices against expanded offshore drilling. The draft plan in its current state disregards this widespread opposition.      

The draft plan presents a dangerous and backward policy direction. To meet national energy needs, the Department of Interior should reconsider their proposal for expanded offshore drilling and instead refocus agency resources to identify strategies to expand clean energy sources. Advancing clean and renewable energy will allow future generations to enjoy unlimited supplies of American-made, pollution-free energy.

I strongly oppose this draft plan and urge you to remove all new proposed lease sales in the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans, as well as the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. Protect our coast and prevent the expansion of offshore drilling.