Spoiled Parks | New Reports Spotlight Threat of Trump’s Expanded Offshore Drilling

Acadia, Fort Sumter, Everglades, Olympic National Parks and Others in 18 States at Risk; Huge Potential Impact Seen on $5.7 Billion in Coastal Park Economic Output, 84 Million Annual Visits, and 60,000 Jobs.

The Trump Administration’s widely criticized plan to expand offshore drilling along virtually all of America’s East Coast, Pacific Coast, Eastern Gulf and Alaska waters imperils 68 national parks, national seashore areas and national monuments in 18 states, according to a report issued today by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).  The analysis, “SpOILed Parks: The Threat to Our Coastal National Parks From Expanded Offshore Drilling,” comes as millions of Americans prepare to head to national parks and national seashores for the Memorial Day weekend.

 

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From Alaska to New York, Florida to California, the 18 coastal states with national parks and other protected federal sites at risk from offshore drilling are:  Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington. 

Expanded offshore drilling threatens some of our most iconic national parks, monuments and seashores, including: Acadia, Cape Cod, Cape Hatteras, Cabrillo, Everglades, Fort Sumter and Point Reyes. Even Lady Liberty, one of America’s most iconic symbols, is not immune from these risks.  

In addition to the danger posed to natural beauty and wildlife, the report indicates that expanded offshore drilling could devastate communities that depend on tourism to these sites for a robust economy. Coastal parks in the newly considered areas for expanded offshore drilling generated more than $5.7 billion in economic output in 2017 and supported more than 59,000 jobs. Across the country, coastal parks drew more than 84 million visitors who contributed over $4.5 billion to local, regional and national economies.

Mark Wenzler, senior vice president of conservation programs for National Parks Conservation Association, said: This may be the last summer that Americans experience the unspoiled beauty of our coastal national parks if the Trump Administration succeeds in opening vast areas of our coastline to drilling. National parks are too important to America’s families and economy to risk spoiling them with industrial drill rigs, oil sheens, and tar balls. 

Offshore drilling is dangerous, unpopular, and damaging to our climate, and we need to block the Administration’s outrageous plan–or our coastal national parks could take a serious hit,” said Jacob Eisenberg, report co-author and associate advocate, nature program, Natural Resources Defense Council.  “America needs to invest instead in a clean energy future that preserves and protects our public lands and waters and our climate. 

Robert Woodard, chairman of the board of commissioners, Dare County, North Carolina, said: “Dare County, North Carolina is home to three incredible national parks, which welcome visitors from near and far and support made-in-North-Carolina jobs. Opening up our coasts to expanded offshore drilling is irresponsible, and places undue risk on our local economies that rely on these seasonal visitors for their livelihoods.”

Nicholas Lund, report co-author and senior manager of landscape conservation program for National Parks Conservation Association, said: “Our national parks and the tourism communities they support are forever. This is yet another example of this administration prioritizing private industry profits over the needs of the American people. We’ve seen strong bipartisan opposition to this wildly unpopular proposal and urge Secretary Zinke to rethink commonsense measures to ensure our coastal national parks remain protected for future generations.”

Non-park coastal areas and economies are also at risk from offshore drilling, in addition to the 68 national parks highlighted in the report.  In 2015, in states whose coasts are being newly considered for offshore drilling in Interior Secretary Zinke’s proposal, the ocean-related tourism and recreation sectors alone contributed over $90.3 billion to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That year those industries encompassed over a hundred thousand businesses employing more than 1,794,549 workers and generated at least $44,056,074,017 in wages 

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke proposed a new plan in January 2018 for leasing America’s federal offshore waters for oil and gas drilling. A radical departure from longstanding policy, his proposed plan opens both coasts to drilling, including vast new areas in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans as well as Florida and Alaska’s coasts–areas which have not seen drilling in decades, if ever. The drilling plan ruin fisheries; soil the habitats and migratory pathways of whales and dolphins; threaten coastal communities with industrialized coastlines and catastrophic spills; and exacerbate climate change. 

There is overwhelming, bipartisan opposition to expanding offshore drilling along America’s coasts. Republican governors of Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and South Carolina have joined Democratic governors of California, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington to publicly oppose the Trump administration’s efforts to expand offshore drilling and seismic testing.

Tens of thousands of local businesses and hundreds of thousands of commercial fishing families that depend on clean coasts, the majority of Americansover 250 coastal municipalities, many Alaskan Native organizations, over 150 Members of the House, 40 Senators, as well as local and state officials and a host of faith leaders reject the Trump administration’s dangerous move to expand offshore drilling. 


ABOUT THE GROUPSSince 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org and follow us on Twitter at @NPCA. 

The Natural Resources Defense Council is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.


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