Enviro Groups: Virginia “political elite” Put Oil Industry Ahead of Climate, Healthy Economy

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    From the Virginia Sierra Club; I couldn’t agree more with all of this. Offshore oil drilling is beyond stupid at this point, given: a) the overwhelming science indicating that we have to start rapidly ramping DOWN our fossil fuel use immediately; b) the urgent need to switch to clean energy; c) the non-climate-related environmental damage done by offshore oil drilling; and d) the risk to Virginia’s economy from potential oil spills. No matter how you look at it, offshore oil drilling is the exact opposite direction we should be going.

    Environmental groups and tourism industry representatives respond to

    Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce forum touting offshore drilling

    [Virginia Beach – Sept. 21, 2015]  The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce held a forum on Monday to explore the alleged opportunities associated with drilling for oil and gas off the Virginia coast and highlight its recent visit to Port Fourchon, LA.  In response, environmental groups and tourism industry representatives issued the following statement:

    “You shouldn’t think of Port Fourchon as a coastal community.  Rather, it is one massive shipyard and hardly one that the Hampton Roads would want to emulate”, said Jonathan Henderson with the Gulf Restoration Network based in New Orleans.  “Anyone attempting to tout Louisiana’s economy, should realize the fact that Louisiana ranks last or near last in poverty, education, pollution, and health issues.”

    “Many of the people that work offshore on the rigs come from out of state or even abroad from places like the Philippines,” continued Henderson. “Operators in the Gulf of Mexico region have laid off tens of thousands of workers over the last year because the decline in the price per barrel has cut into company profits.  While companies like Chevron and Shell could absorb a period of downward prices and decreased revenue, their employees are expendable and there is no loyalty.”

    “We cannot trust the oil industry’s vague promises of ‘jobs and boosting the economy,’ especially when those jobs will come at a huge risk to existing industries like tourism,” said Laura Habr, owner of Croc’s 19th Street Bistro.

    “A large part of Hampton Roads’ commerce is its tourism industry,” continued Habr.  “With all of Virginia Beach’s tourism associations and dozens of its restaurants, hotels and surf shops opposing offshore drilling, it is perplexing that the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce would be so biased in support of this dirty, risky industry.”

    “It is also puzzling for Congressman Rigell to be so actively supporting drilling even as close as just 3 miles off our coast”, said Eileen Levandoski, assistant director with the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter.  “As again confirmed in a recent congressional hearing in New Orleans, Congress has failed to institute any safety regulations since the BP Gulf oil disaster to make drilling any safer.”  

    “The Virginia political elite: Governor McAuliffe, Senators Warner and Kaine and Congressman Rigell are putting a speculative promise of oil industry jobs ahead of a healthy economy rooted in tourism and the military,” continued Levandoski.  “And they ignore the climate impacts of burning more dirty fossil fuels especially on Hampton Roads”.