(March 1, 2019) As concerns continue to mount in the area over the possibility of seismic blasting and offshore drilling off the Atlantic coast, business and environmental groups have joined to present a town hall meeting on the subject next Wednesday.

The session, which will run from 4 to 6:30 p.m., will be held at the Dunes Manor Hotel at 2800 North Baltimore Avenue.

The event, hosted by the Ocean Pines Chamber of Commerce and Greater Ocean City, Maryland Chamber of Commerce, will feature officials from Oceana and Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast, a pair of leading environmental groups focused on protecting oceans, speaking about a proposal centered around offshore testing for oil and gas deposits.

Government and business leaders, including from Ocean City Chamber of Commerce and Coastal Association of Realtors, as well as from the fishing and environmental industries, also will be on hand to answer questions from the public. Anyone planning to attend this free event can register on the Ocean Pines Chamber of Commerce’s events page at oceanpineschamber.org.

“We have a robust tourism economy,” Melanie Pursel, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. “Our greatest economic driver in this region is our clean beaches. We need to make sure they stay that way.”

City and county leaders began facing the debate about seismic testing and offshore drilling in January 2016, with a letter from Ocean City’s Chamber of Commerce to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declaring their opposition to seismic blasting and offshore drilling.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management unveiled a proposal in January 2018 that including three locations off the Maryland coast as part of the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program.

Ocean City Council responded a month later with a resolution opposing offshore drilling. “While we support most of the benefits of offshore wind,” Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan said at the time. “We can’t find anything that benefits the Town of Ocean City [or] the State of Maryland … in having drilling for gas and oil off the Atlantic coast.”

The battle intensified earlier this year, as Ocean City Council approved sending a letter to federal and state officials opposing potentially harmful offshore testing and drilling. Worcester County government officials recently joined the increasing show of solidarity locally through a proposed letter to Mayor Meehan and Ocean City Council that was discussed during a Worcester County Commissioners meeting Feb. 19.

During the meeting, County Commissioner Joseph Mitrecic said he finds “no need to [drill] offshore if you don’t want the oil.”

Offshore drilling and testing has received opposition from across the United States, including from many governors from East Coast states.

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