Both of Maine's senators are warning that the Trump administration's plan to open offshore drilling along the coast of their state threatens the state's huge lobster industry.
"We oppose any effort to open waters off the coast of Maine or any proximate area to offshore drilling, which could negatively affect the health of Maine’s fisheries and other coastal resources, threatening to harm not only the environment but the state’s economy as well," wrote Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Independent Sen. Angus King wrote to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Monday. "Maine’s economic stability — and countless Mainers’ livelihoods — has always depended on the health of the ocean."
The lawmakers wrote that lobster alone is a $1.7 billion annual industry for the state.
"These critical industries are dependent on Maine’s pristine waters, and even a minor spill could damage irreparably the ecosystem in the Gulf of Maine, including the lobster larvae and adult lobster populations therein," the lawmakers wrote.
"Further, offshore seismic testing exploration has been shown in some cases to disrupt migratory patterns of fish and sea mammals," they added. "In other words, we believe the potential harm posed by oil and gas exploration and development off Maine’s shores far outweighs any potential benefit."
Collins and King said according to a draft proposal, the Interior Department plans two auctions in 2021 and 2023 for offshore drilling leases in the North Atlantic region extending from New Jersey to Maine. The department will first hold a series of public hearings across the country, including one scheduled for Jan. 22 in Augusta, Maine.
"We oppose the Department’s draft plan, and look forward to working with you to ensure that it is revised to pose no unnecessary threats to the economy and way of life in coastal Maine," Collins and King wrote.