East Coast businesses push Obama on Atlantic drilling

East Coast businesses push Obama on Atlantic drilling
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A group of businesses on the East Coast is asking President Obama to permanently ban drilling the Atlantic Ocean before he leaves office next month.

A Monday letter signed by 66 businesses from New Hampshire to Florida says drilling threatens existing economic activity along the Eastern Seaboard, especially tourism or fishing sectors that they warn could be damaged by drilling or oil spills there. 

“The potential short-term economic gain drilling would bring to our economy is not worth sacrificing the immense and sustained value our coastal tourism and fishing industries bring to Atlantic Coast states and the entire United States,” the letter said.

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The push comes after the Obama administration said it would block drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans in the U.S.’s next five-year offshore drilling plan, which runs through 2022. 

A larger group of businesses last year pushed him to reject Atlantic drilling in that plan after the Interior Department originally floated allowing oil development there.

Greens welcomed Obama’s decision to ban drilling in the five-year plan. But they have said he should go even further and permanently remove the oceans from future leasing, a step that could block developers from drilling there long-term. 

Under the 2017-2022 plan, the businesses wrote in their letter, “the administration ensured protection of our beaches and tourism industry for the next five years.”

They added, “with the long-term fate of the Atlantic Ocean yet to be decided, we call on you to ensure these vital and spectacular resources are protected for generations to come by permanently protecting the Atlantic Ocean from all future oil and gas development.”