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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:  
Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
Phone: (804)786-1022 
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


RICHMOND (March 6, 2019) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring, along with eight other attorneys general, has joined a group of non-governmental organizations to temporarily halt the Trump Administration’s authorization for proposed seismic testing that would open the door to allow oil drilling off the coast of Virginia and other Atlantic Coast states that could result in severe and irreparable harm to coastal and marine resources, including our vibrant coastal economy and military operations in Hampton Roads.


Last month, the court granted Attorney General Herring and his colleagues’ motion to intervene in a pending lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and federal officials that was filed in South Carolina by a coalition of local and national non-governmental organizations. To prevent any seismic testing from occurring while the lawsuit is under way, the states joined in those organizations’ motion for a preliminary injunction.


“An oil spill of any kind off the coast of Virginia could have devastating consequences, and we have made it clear that we do not want offshore drilling on our coasts that could threaten our economy and our environment,” said Attorney General Herring. “The Trump Administration’s policies are focused on lining the pockets of oil and gas companies, instead of considering the harmful economic and environmental effects of their actions. My colleagues and I will continue to make our objections to offshore drilling known and do everything we can to stop this risky practice off Virginia’s beautiful coast.”


In July 2017, Attorney General Herring wrote to the NMFS urging it deny applications to conduct seismic testing, citing the dangers that seismic testing and offshore drilling could pose to Virginia’s coastal economies and environments.


Despite widespread criticism of the proposed testing from the scientific community and the public, NMFS granted the applications for seismic testing in November 2018. In challenging the authorization, the coalition of attorneys general charges that NMFS’s approval violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and Administrative Procedure Act.


Specifically, in Virginia, offshore drilling would threaten the Chesapeake Bay, military installations including Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia's $1 billion coastal tourism industry which supports 45,000 jobs, and its seafood industries which support thousands of jobs and generate millions of dollars in economic activity.


Joining Attorney General Herring in today’s filing are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, and North Carolina.  


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