MD Opposes Atlantic Offshore Drilling

Updated: Mar 29, 2020

Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin

Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin

In a Baltimore Sun article dated July 2017, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he's against gas drilling off his state's coast which is in sharp contrast to news coming from the White House. Governors, state lawmakers, and attorneys general along the Atlantic coast say drilling threatens beach tourism that has flourished on the coast in the absence of oil production. Hogan is familiar with natural gas development following the Maryland General Assembly's passing of a ban on fracking in 2017 – with his full endorsement.

The Trump administration is moving toward future oil and natural gas drilling off the Atlantic shore by approving five requests from companies to conduct deafening seismic tests that could potentially kill tens of thousands of dolphins, whales, and other marine animals.

The permits granted will likely inflame governors in states along the Eastern Seaboard who strongly oppose the administration’s proposal to expand federal oil and gas leases to the Atlantic. Federal leases could lead to exploratory drilling for the first time in more than a half-century.

"I'm not in favor of offshore drilling," Hogan told reporters last year. "There are many hurdles before it could come close to reality." One of those hurdles was just crossed which thumbs a nose to Maryland's newly re-elected Republican Governor. Hogan had not previously taken a public stance on offshore drilling, which had been shelved under former President Barack Obama. Hogan is notoriously cautious when weighing in on Trump administration policies which may have helped earn him a second term as a Republican governor for a Democrat-led state.

Mark Belton, Hogan's secretary of Natural Resources, sent a request to federal wildlife officials following Hogan's 2017 public stance, asking for a review of how seismic testing could harm whales, dolphins and turtles, commercial fisheries, and recreational activity.

Seismic testing maps the ocean floor and estimates the whereabouts of potential oil and gas reserves but only exploratory drilling can confirm their presence. In addition to harming sea life, acoustic tests in which boats tugging rods pressurized for sound, emit jet engine-like booms 10 to 12 seconds apart for days and sometimes months, disrupting thriving commercial fisheries.