PROVIDENCE, RI - The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will hold an open house meeting in Providence on Thursday, January 25, regarding the Trump Administration’s plans to sell oil and gas drilling rights off the New England coast.  The public is invited to attend the meeting at the Marriott Providence Downtown from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and submit prepared written comments to transmit directly to the agency.  The U.S. Department of the Interior has indicated that BOEM experts will answer questions on a one-on-one basis and provide information on the national program, but will not hold a town hall style meeting.

BOEM has scheduled a single meeting in each of the 22 states with new leases proposed off their coasts to collect public comments on the Trump Administration’s proposed 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leasing program, which, if enacted would be the largest sale of oil and gas leases in U.S. history, potentially opening up over 90 percent of the U.S. outer continental shelf to oil and gas drilling.

“I believe the Trump Administration’s plan to vastly expand offshore drilling is bad for the environment, economy, and public health.  I strongly oppose this shortsighted proposal to turn the Atlantic Ocean into an oilfield because it could endanger our waters, coastline, and economy.  I am particularly concerned about the impact that offshore oil and gas development in the Atlantic could have on Rhode Island’s fishing, boating, and marine industries,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees BOEM’s budget.  “Rhode Islanders don’t want oil drilling off our coastline.  They deserve to know what the Trump Administration has planned for our waters and the federal government needs to listen to Rhode Island voices.  I encourage Rhode Islanders to respectfully share their viewpoints and concerns in person at this meeting, or online.”

Senator Reed is a cosponsor of two bills that would prohibit the U.S. Department of Interior from issuing leases for the exploration, development, or production of oil or gas in the Atlantic Ocean: The Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism (COAST) Anti-Drilling Act, S. 999, would prohibit these activities in all of the Atlantic Ocean and Straits of Florida, while the New England Coastal Protection Act, S. 2298, would specifically prohibit oil and gas leasing off the coast of New England.

Reed says that preventing drilling in the Atlantic Ocean is critical to protecting the $95 billion coastal economy and the 1.4 million jobs that rely on it.  It is also key to preserving essential ecosystems and confronting the threat of climate change.

Currently, over 120 municipalities, 1,200 elected officials, and a group of over 41,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families up and down the coast have publicly opposed offshore drilling and associated exploration.

Reed recently joined 37 of his Senate colleagues in sending a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to express strong opposition to the proposal to expand offshore drilling.  He also led a group of U.S. Senators representing coastal states in telling the Trump Administration that they don’t want oil and gas drilling off their coasts, and demanding the same respect for their states that was recently given to Florida, which was granted a special exemption by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.  He also urged the Secretary to maintain protections in the Atlantic Ocean, which has long been off limits to oil exploration and drilling.  In fact, there have been no sales of oil and gas drilling leases along the Atlantic coast since 1983 and there are no existing leases.

Those unable to attend the January 25 open house in Providence can submit their comments online at:

According to BOEM, the agency is encouraging “participants to submit written comments to inform BOEM of specific issues, impacting factors, environmental resources, alternatives to the proposed action, and mitigation measures to consider in its analyses.”

BOEM’s public comment period is scheduled to close on March 9, 2018.