(Aug. 16, 2019) The Ocean City Chamber of Commerce is urging voters to contact Rep. Andy Harris (R-1) to vote yes on House Resolutions 1941 and 205 when the time comes to protect the Maryland coast coast from the Trump administration’s five-year drilling program. 

Andy Harris

“Maryland and Delaware could be opened to offshore drilling at a moment’s notice,” a statement from the chamber said. “In Maryland alone, a catastrophic oil spill disaster risks 96,000 jobs and $6 billion in GDP.” 

President Donald Trump signed an executive order in April 2017, which aimed to expand offshore drilling in the Artic and Atlantic Oceans. 

Calling it the “America-First Offshore Energy Strategy,” Trump’s order would have revoked protections granted to millions of acres of federal waters by President Barack Obama. 

The thought of an oil spill of any kind has tourism officials and business people shivery at the thought.

The 2010 BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig explosion has yet to fade from memory. The incident killed 11 people, and an estimated 3.19 million barrels of oil leaked into the Gulf in 87 days. 

According to the National Ocean Service, oil destroys the insulating ability of fur-bearing mammals and water repellency of bird feathers. 

In short, the animals no longer have proper defense mechanisms against the environment, and can die of hypothermia. 

Animals also may ingest the oil, which could poison them. 

Trump’s order was blocked, however, after Alaska federal judge Sharon Gleason ruled on March 30 that the order was illegal, a Reuters’ article reported.

Gleason based her ruling on the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OSCLA), which states: “The President of the United States may, from time to time, withdraw from disposition any of the unleased lands of the outer Continental Shelf.” 

Essentially, Trump can only remove certain lands from development, but only Congress can revoke the withdrawals. 

Still, this does not mean the threat of offshore drilling is gone, and so the Chamber of Commerce is pushing Harris to vote to protect the resort coast from Trump’s plan. 

The proposed measures would ban offshore drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific and Florida’s Eastern Gulf of Mexico, according to the press release. 

The group also promoted an event called the “Float for the Coast rally” scheduled for Aug. 16, at 11 a.m. at Street Watersports on 48th Street. 

“I support the ban included in the appropriations bill, and will review H.R. 1941 when and if it comes to the House floor,” Harris said. 

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