06 • 13 • 2019
Prohibit Drilling Activity in Maine State Waters!
The Maine Chapter worked with our Northeast Regional Manager to support the passage of a bill that prohibits offshore drilling for oil and gas in state waters as well as the infrastructure necessary for oil and gas resources drilled in the federal waters of the outer continental shelf to be transported or processed across state waters.
On June 13, 2019, Governor Janet T. Mills signed LD955 into law. Congrats to all Mainers and THANKS to all who had a hand in this important victory, pushing back against federal overreach in pursuing a dirty energy future at the cost of our coastal and ocean ecosystems, economy and way of life!
On June 4, 2019, the Senate voted 31 to 4 in concurrence with the House (see how YOUR senator voted, here) for the bill to be engrossed (printed), and on June 6, it passed under the hammer and is now headed to Governor Janet T. Mills for signing.
THANKS to all who helped win this important victory for our coast!
Join the Surfrider-led email listserv for your New England state-based coalition opposing offshore drilling by filling out this form (and please share the link widely - all are welcomed): go.surfrider.org/NoNEdrilling
This bill prohibits a person from performing or causing to be performed any oil or natural gas exploration, development or production in, on or under the waters of the State or that may adversely affect the waters of the State.
The bill also prohibits the Department of Environmental Protection and the Director of the Bureau of Parks and Lands within the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry from permitting, approving or otherwise authorizing any oil or natural gas exploration, development or production in, on or under the submerged and intertidal land owned by the State.
It is the intent of this legislation to generally prohibit activities relating to offshore oil and natural gas exploration, development and production within the boundaries and jurisdiction of the State, which place the State's coastal communities at economic and ecological risk from oil spills, and from the pollution caused by routine drilling operations and onshore industrialization, and threaten the quality of life and livelihoods of Maine citizens and economically significant industries, including tourism, recreation and commercial and recreational fishing, and small businesses that rely on a clean and healthy ocean and clean and healthy beaches.
The public hearing on this bill was held on Friday, March 29th at 10am in the Environment and Natural Resources Committee room, located in the Cross Office Building, Room 216 (111 Sewall Street, Augusta, Maine).
About a dozen supporters and exactly ZERO people spoke against the measure, with a couple, including the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, calling for language amendments to clarify the scope. Legislators seemed interested in the effort, with outlier House Representative Richard Campbell, a Republican representing Bucksport and Orrington, seeming to lead questioning away from the expert testimony and down a rabbit hole in an attempt to “prove” that this bill is not necessary. Rather than hearing our expert testimony that proved the case for why LD955 is critical, the Representative called out our Northeast Regional Manager for saying former Governor Paul LePage was misguided in his support of offshore drilling- a statement more of fact than opinion, given the former Governor's actions were in direct contradiction to Maine's entire Congressional delegation (then consisting of two Republicans, one Democrat and one Independent), the entire State Legislature that unanimously passed a resolution in 2018 to oppose the federal drilling program, and the hordes of people from every sector, section and walk of Maine life who have come out in opposition to offshore drilling and seismic activity off or in Maine state waters. We're not sure what angle the Representative is working in calling this bill into question, but we know his constituents are not on board and want LD955 to pass. Catch news coverage from the hearing here.
A work session was held on April 5, 2019 at 11AM in the Cross Office Building, Room 216 (111 Sewall St., Augusta); no public comments are taken in work session but the Committee can call upon members of the public who are present in the room to help clarify facts. The Committee did not reach consensus with at least 4 Republican lawmakers failing to understand that while the Maine Geological Survey is absolutely correct that we are highly unlikely to have any oil and gas reserves in the OCS off our waters that this bill is still very much important to protect us from OCS oil and gas resources from elsewhere being shipped across our state waters to port, thereby opening up our state and the entire Gulf of Maine to untenable risks of oil spills, and that passing this bill will help us pushback against federal overreach on the national offshore drilling program by codifying our state's laws, goals and policies. The divided report was finally released by the ENR committee on 5/31/19, with a majority recommending the amended bill for passage to the full legislature, on a committee vote of 9 for its passage and 4 against.