Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has issued a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke calling on Zinke to exempt New York from the Department of the Interior’s draft plan to expand oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic coast.
The full text of the governor’s letter is below.
Dear Secretary Zinke:
New York State strongly opposes the Department of the Interior’s draft proposed plan to open the Atlantic coast to nine offshore drilling lease sales pursuant to the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, including two in our North Atlantic region. Your decision to remove Florida from consideration of any new oil and gas platforms before your department has even concluded its public fact-finding process appears arbitrary. Nevertheless, to the extent that states are exempted from consideration, New York should also be exempted.
Offshore drilling poses an unacceptable threat to New York’s ocean resources, to our economy and to the future of our children. It introduces the unprecedented risk of extremely hazardous oil spills, contributes to the acceleration of climate change and conflicts with New York’s ambitious agenda to develop offshore wind energy. With this plan, the federal government is trampling on the interests of New Yorkers and threatening the future well-being of our state.
The long-term health of New York’s economy is inextricably linked to protecting our ocean resources. Much like Florida, New York’s ocean coast is unique and plays a vital role in our economy. Long Island and the New York Harbor are home to 11. 4 million people, with 60 percent of our state’s population living along nearly 2,000 miles of tidal coastline. New York’s “Ocean Economy” (construction, living resources, minerals, ship building, tourism and recreation and transportation) generates tens of billions of dollars in economic activity and provides hundreds of thousands of jobs. New York Harbor is also home to the largest container port on the East Coast. The proposal to lease the OCS for oil and gas drilling threatens these jobs and the entire nation’s economic well-being.
An oil spill offshore New York’s Atlantic coast would cripple the state’s ocean tourism economy and devastate coastal ecosystems, and toxic chemical releases associated with day-to-day drilling operations and pipeline leaks would negatively impact marine and other wildlife. The Atlantic Ocean off New York’s coast provides critical habitat for hundreds of species, including deep sea corals, marine mammals, fish, sea turtles, seabirds and important fisheries species like tilefish, squid crabs, flounder and tuna. Whales are now commonly spotted off New York City, a sight unimaginable only a decade ago, and just this week two of the world’s 450 remaining North Atlantic Right whales were observed off Montauk.
Finally, the plan undermines New York’s efforts to combat climate change by shifting from greenhouse gas emitting fossil energy sources to renewable sources, such as offshore wind. Building upon my administration’s mandate that 50 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable energy by 2030, I have committed New York to achieving 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030—enough power for over 1.2 million homes. Rather than working against us to thwart New York’s clean energy goals and hinder one of our state’s most promising emerging industries, I urge your department to continue focusing on our collaborative efforts to establish new areas for offshore wind energy development.
Offshore drilling would devastate New York’s economy and environment, cause irreparable harm to our coastal ecosystems and could interfere with our nationally significant coastal economy. New York must be removed from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms through the OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo