Coastal recreation and tourism leaders meet with federal leaders in D.C. to oppose offshore drilling

March 04 2019

Surfrider Foundation chapters and the recreation industry express opposition to new offshore drilling and present a surfboard covered in signatures as a symbol of bipartisan solidarity. 

On Thursday, February 28, the Surfrider Foundation and leaders of the coastal recreation and tourism industry presented Department of Interior and White House officials with a surfboard and letter signed by more than a thousand coastal businesses and elected officials in opposition to new offshore oil drilling in U.S. waters. From Florida to Maine and California to Washington state, businesses, including restaurants, retailers, surf shops and hotels, are joining together to stop new offshore oil and gas development off our nation’s coasts. 

"New offshore oil drilling threatens U.S. businesses and jobs that depend on a clean coastal environment,” said President of the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association, Shannan North. “That's why the surfing industry is opposed to the federal government's plans to expand oil drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico. Clean beaches and healthy oceans are critical drivers of our coastal economies and the surfing industry is one of many U.S. industries that would be negatively impacted by expanded offshore drilling."

Ocean recreation and tourism provide more than two million jobs and contribute $115 billion annually to our nation’s GDP. As a result, businesses that are dependent on a clean coastal environment are taking action to stop new oil and gas development. On the East Coast, the Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast consists of 46,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families that are opposed to offshore oil drilling. The Business Alliance for Protecting the Pacific Coast is now made up of more than 2,200 members after launching just last year.

Opposition to offshore drilling also includes bipartisan representation. Republicans and Democrats have called for the administration to reverse its position on new drilling, including:

  • Governors from New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Connecticut, California, Oregon, and Washington all announced their opposition to drilling for oil off their shores.
  • More than 330 municipalities on the East and West coasts have passed resolutions against offshore oil drilling and seismic airgun blasting.
  • 37 senators, most of whom represent coastal states affected by the proposal, sent a letter to the Secretary of Interior expressing strong opposition to the department's plans to expand offshore drilling to new areas.
  • 12 state attorneys general from both the East and West coasts sent a letter to the Department of Interior in opposition to new offshore drilling. 
  • Florida’s entire federal delegation of 29 lawmakers sent a letter to Acting Interior Secretary Bernhardt, expressing opposition to expanded offshore drilling.
  • 16 federal lawmakers from the Pacific Northwest sent a letter to Secretary Zinke opposing offshore drilling off Oregon and Washington.
  • The California Senate, California State Lands Commission, California Fish & Game Commission and California Coastal Commission have all passed resolutions against offshore drilling.                                                                                                               

“Offshore drilling and exploration pose numerous risks to our pristine beaches, marine life, the health of our coastal ecosystems, and by extension our beach tourism and fishing industries,” said New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith (R-4th Dist.) “I am unalterably opposed to oil and gas drilling and exploration off our coastlines. Not here, not now, not ever.”

Even when there is not a spill and everything goes ‘right,’ the process of oil drilling releases thousands of gallons of polluted water into the ocean, called produced waters and drilling muds. These fluids contain toxic substances such as benzene, zinc, arsenic, radioactive materials and other contaminants. 

“Because even the exploration for offshore oil includes drilling test wells, the entire process of developing offshore oil threatens our coastal tourism economies and must be stopped,” said President and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce and Co-Founder and former President and CEO of the Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast, Frank Knapp Jr.

"Our nation’s coastal tourism, recreation and fishing industries, which are built around clean water and healthy beaches, provide 12 times the number of jobs in comparison to offshore drilling,” said Surfrider’s CEO, Dr. Chad Nelsen. “We will continue to work together with the many businesses, communities and elected officials that have already demonstrated opposition against the expansion of destructive new oil drilling to fight for the protection of our ocean, coasts and communities for the future." 

To learn more and get involved, visit


About the Surfrider Foundation 

The Surfrider Foundation is a nonprofit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful network. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over one million supporters, activists and members, with more than 170 volunteer-led chapters and student clubs in the U.S., and more than 500 victories protecting our coasts. Learn more at