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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219



For media inquiries only, contact:  
Michael Kelly, Director of Communications
Phone: (804)786-5874 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



~ In official public comments on the Trump Administration's plan to expand offshore drilling, Attorney General Herring cites the threat to Virginia's economy, environment, coastal communities, and military assets as reasons to halt the proposed plan ~

RICHMOND (March 9, 2018)-Attorney General Mark R. Herring has submitted official public comments to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management expressing his opposition to the Trump Administration's plan to expand drilling off the coast of Virginia and other states on the Atlantic seaboard. Citing the risks to coastal communities, economies, environments, and military assets, Attorney General Herring says "the potential risks are too great and the potential benefits too small to continue with the development of this Program."


"Simply put, we cannot afford to expose the Chesapeake Bay and our coastal communities to the significant risk of environmental contamination and degradation associated with offshore drilling," said Attorney General Herring. "Coastal communities and local, state, and federal officials in Virginia and up and down the East Coast have expressed their opposition to this reckless expansion of drilling. Unfortunately, President Trump and Secretary Zinke seem intent on ignoring these local voices, and instead plowing ahead with a giveaway to oil and gas companies. We will continue to make our objections known and will be ready to take any steps necessary, including potential legal action, to protect our coastal communities, economy, and environment."


In his comments, Attorney General Herring cites the Virginia "economy's heavy reliance on tourism and commercial fishing, and the indispensable national security role of Virginia-based military installations" in arguing that Virginia meets and exceeds the seemingly arbitrary standard established by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke when he purported to exempt Florida from the drilling expansion plan.


According to Attorney General Herring's comments, tourism provides the City of Virginia Beach $1.4 billion in annual revenue, which generates $55 million in tax revenue and provides 13,000 jobs. Virginia saltwater commercial fishing adds more than $145,000,000 annually to our economy, including:

  • $56.6 million from shellfish aquaculture,
  • $40.9 million from Blue Crab,
  • $30.7 million from Eastern oysters, and
  • $25.9 million from Atlantic Menhaden.

Additionally, Attorney General Herring's comments point out that "Virginia's coastal communities are home to significant military assets and installations, including Naval Station Norfolk, the world's largest naval base, as well as thousands of servicemembers and their families. These assets are a vital part of our national security and our Commonwealth's economy," and Attorney General Herring has "serious concerns about how the [offshore drilling] Program could jeopardize military training and operations, including at Naval Station Norfolk, Naval Air Station Norfolk, Naval Air Station Oceana, Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Dam Neck Fleet Training Center, and Joint Base Langley-Eustis."


In addition to his own comments highlighting the reasons that Virginia is potentially threatened by an expansion of offshore drilling, Attorney General Herring will be joining comments being submitted later today by a coalition of state attorneys general that outline broader policy concerns in addition to potential areas of legal infirmity with the plan.


Previously, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues wrote Sec. Zinke expressing their strong opposition to the offshore drilling plan and their intention to fully participate in the regulatory process and use all available tools to protect their states.



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