Small businesses tell Obama to reject Atlantic drilling

Small businesses tell Obama to reject Atlantic drilling
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More than 300 local businesses along the Eastern Seaboard are encouraging President Obama to reject the Interior Department’s plan to open up the portions of the Atlantic Ocean for oil drilling. 

The businesses, organized by the group Environment America, sent a letter to Obama highlighting their opposition to the proposal, calling it “incompatible with our tourism and fishing industries.”

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“When you drill, you spill, and day to day drilling operations result in chronic pollution and the industrialization of the coast for oil facilities.” the letter says. 

“Look no further than the devastation the BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe brought to the Gulf of Mexico’s fishing, tourism and wildlife to recognize the impact drilling would have here on the Atlantic Coast.”

The businesses — based in places from New Hampshire to Florida — said such a spill could put the region's more than $4 billion in economic activity at risk. 

“Our coasts are worth too much to risk. Rather than exposing our beaches, families and businesses to the inherent risks of drilling, we need to move this country in the direction of renewable energy,” they wrote.

The Interior Department proposed a five-year energy development plan in January that would open up swaths of the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and  Arctic for new oil and gas development. 

Green groups have slammed the plan and said expanded offshore drilling not only risks potential spills but would exacerbate climate change by leading to more fossil fuel use. Several Senate Democrats have looked to block the plan legislatively. 

In defending a decision to allow Royal Dutch Shell to drill for oil in the Arctic, Obama and the White House have said they want to make sure American oil and gas reserves are utilized while the U.S. transitions to renewable energy.

When the administration announced the leasing plan in January, Interior Secretary Sally JewellSarah (Sally) Margaret JewellNational parks pay the price for Trump's Independence Day spectacle Overnight Energy: Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone | UN report offers dire climate warning | Trump expected to lift ethanol restrictions Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone MORE said it “takes into account the areas that we believe are appropriate for development and the areas that we believe are inappropriate for development.”