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Attorney General Janet Mills lambasts the Trump administration's proposal for offshore oil and gas drilling
March 12, 2018
AUGUSTA ? Attorney General Janet Mills severely criticized the Trump administration's proposal to drill for oil and gas off the Atlantic shore this week.
In comments filed with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Attorney General Mills claimed that in granting Florida a waiver from the drilling proposal because of the impact on that state's coastal tourism economy, the Trump administration purposefully ignored the equally important impact on Maine's tourism economy.
An oil or gas spill off the coast would create havoc to Maine's economy, to its fishing and tourism industries and to its fragile coastal ecosytems, Mills wrote.
?Maine's coastal wetlands are vital habitats for shorebirds, wading birds and ducks,? she said, adding that ?the state's 4,500 miles of coastline and 4,600 islands of more than an acre in size and Maine's approximately 19,500 acres of wetland are of tremendous ecological importance and highly vulnerable to the impacts of an oil spill of any size.?
The Attorney General emphasized the unique conditions in Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine which would make a spill especially devastating to the coast of Maine, characterizing the Georges Bank as a ?clockwise spinning gyre? that would continuously recirculate oil slicks and other pollutants and greatly exacerbate the damage to the region's renowned ground fishery, endangering all sorts of birds and fur-bearing mammals such as seals.
Maine accounted for 30% of all commercial fishing trips on the East Coast in one recent year and Maine's lobster population, and the economic value of that harvest, would be severely impacted by a spill. The Trump administration's proposal also puts at risks Maine's other fisheries, including scallops, groundfish, shrimp, salmon, crab, herring, urchins, elvers, clams, mussels and oysters and the state's growing aquaculture industry which produces salmon, shellfish and seaweed, with a direct impact of $73.4 million on the state's economy.
Attorney General Mills noted that every member of the Maine legislature voted in favor of a bipartisan joint resolution opposing oil and gas development off the coast of Maine and that all four of Maine's Congressional delegation signed legislation opposing the proposal.
Attorney General Mills has also joined other Attorneys General from both the west and the east coast in opposing the opening of the Outer Continental Shelf off of both coasts to leases for oil and gas drilling.
Mills also questioned whether the federal government considered the important interests of Maine?s federally recognized tribes and the impact of any spill on the Passamaquoddy Tribe?s Reservation at Pleasant Point in Washington County. Federal law requires the Department of the Interior to consider the interests of tribes under statutes such as the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. Mills questioned that the administration had reached out to the tribe.