Environmental Defense defends states' rights to control offshore drilling decisions

provided by Environmental Defense

n the wake of a controversial proposed policy change that could bring environmentally damaging projects to a coastal state's shores without its consent, Environmental Defense today defended the long-standing right of affected states to be part of federal decisions about offshore drilling, ocean dumping, undersea pipelines, and other damaging industrial projects. State authority over such activities could be seriously curtailed under a new federal rule-making now being proposed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Environmental Defense urges the White House to withdraw this rule.

    “States and their citizens should be able to be sure that no oil rig, gas pipeline, or potentially hazardous industrial project is sited off their shores without their input and consent, “ said Richard Charter, marine conservation advocate with Environmental Defense. “We join with the many members of Congress who have today opposed any effort by the administration to undermine the important role that coastal states have traditionally played in decisions affecting their shores.”

    The proposed changes to NOAA's “consistency” rules could undermine the 30 years of successful partnerships between coastal states and the federal government which have been a tradition under the Coastal Zone Management Act. NOAA's proposed relaxation of its policies would exempt entire categories of permits from state review, and what the agency calls “far offshore” projects could become virtually immune from state oversight.

    Offshore drilling has long been the source of major political controversy and has emerged as a prominent issue in the California and Florida gubernatorial races. Earlier this year, the administration extinguished undeveloped offshore leases in Florida but has thus far refused to do so in California, despite longtime citizen demand for the removal of these leases.

    Environmental Defense, a leading national nonprofit organization based in New York, represents more than 300,000 members. Since 1967 they have linked science, economics, and law to create innovative, equitable, and cost-effective solutions to the most urgent environmental problems. www .environmenaldefense.org