Snow Hill – February 19, 2019 — In a letter to Acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, the Worcester County Commissioners have voiced their opposition to offshore drilling and seismic airgun blasting in the waters off the Delmarva Coast, specifically in the vicinity of Ocean City and Assateague Island State and National Parks.
In the letter, Commissioners have asked for Bernhardt’s support to remove the Mid-Atlantic Planning Area from consideration in the 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program and to deny any seismic airgun surveys for oil and gas off the Delmarva coast.
“As elected leaders, entrusted by Worcester County citizens and visitors to protect sensitive natural resources and ensure the future prosperity of our communities, we strongly feel the risks associated with oil and gas development in the Mid-Atlantic Planning Area far outweigh any potential benefits,” Commission President Diana Purnell said. “Our economy heavily depends on healthy waterways and beaches to support our robust tourism, real estate, and fishing industries. These industries are directly threatened by the proposed exploration and drilling for oil and gas off the Delmarva Coast in the Mid-Atlantic Planning Area.”
The oil and gas industry has a poor history of accident prevention and remediation. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) reported that between 2011–2017 the following safety incidents occurred in the U.S. offshore drilling industry: 13 deaths, 760 fires or explosions, 26 losses of well control, and 125 spills of 50 barrels of oil or more.
These statistics clearly demonstrate the inherent risks that come with offshore oil and gas development. Underscoring this risk is the dearth of oil and gas in the Mid-Atlantic Planning Area. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management estimates there are approximately 2.41 billion barrels of oil and 24.63 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Mid Atlantic Planning Area. At current U.S. consumption rates, that equals less than a four-month supply of oil and less than a year’s worth of natural gas.
For these reasons, The Commissioners have requested that all areas in the Mid-Atlantic Planning Area be removed from consideration in the 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program and that any seismic airgun surveys for oil and gas off the Delmarva Coast be denied.