Providence – Representative Aaron Regunberg submitted a resolution to the
Rhode Island General Assembly today to unify the body in opposition to the
Trump Administration’s plan to open nearly all of the country’s coastal
waters to oil and gas drilling.

“Our environment is our state’s greatest asset,” said Regunberg, who has
been outspoken on environmental and climate issues and was one of the first
state elected officials to come out against the proposed Burrillville power
plant in 2015. “Ask the thousands of men and women employed in the tourism,
fishing, and marine industries. We are not going to sit back as a president
who is in the pocket of Big Oil opens up our waters for outside companies
to come in and start drilling. The president’s proposal is a disaster that
would scar our state. As we have seen in the numerous offshore drilling
catastrophes of the past decades, this extraction would ruin our beaches,
disrupt our industries, and endanger our marine life.”

The resolution states:

“…The threat to the economies of our coastal states and to the safety of
those who work in the fisheries industry are too grave to allow these plans
to proceed. It is time for everyone, including all Rhode Islanders, to lend
their voices in opposition to the President’s offshore drilling policies
and in support of our country’s vital natural resources and for those whose
livelihoods depend upon the vigorous protection of our coastal waters; now,
therefore be it RESOLVED, That this House of Representatives of the State
of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations hereby expresses opposition to
President Trump’s decision to allow offshore drilling in most of America’s
coastal waters…”

Less than a week after announcing the plan, Secretary of the Interior, Ryan
Zinke gave the state of Florida an exemption, taking its coastal waters
“off the table” for drilling. Zinke said that he recognized the unique
importance of the coast to Florida’s economy and respected Governor Rick
Scott as a “straightforward leader that can be trusted.” Regunberg, and
lawmakers from across the country pointed out the political favoritism
apparently at play. Governor Scott, a Republican, is expected to run
against Democratic Senator Bill Nelson this year, and offshore drilling is
widely unpopular among Florida voters.

“Florida’s coastal waters are no more precious than our own,” said
Regunberg. “Handing only them an exemption as a political favor to their
governor is crony politics plain and simple. This resolution demands that
the importance of protecting our coast is recognized, and that the choice
of Rhode Islanders is respected.”

The resolution underscores the vital role that Rhode Island’s coast and
ocean play in the economy. A 2014 industry report conducted by IHS
Consulting reported that tourism was the fourth largest economic sector in
the state, accounting for approximately 45,000 jobs—nearly ten percent of
the state’s total employment, and producing 2.8 billion dollars, 5.3
percent of the state’s Gross Product. A 2010 report from the Cornell
Cooperative Extension Marine Program found that Rhode Island’s fisheries
industry employed 4,968 individuals.

Governor Gina Raimondo and Rhode Island’s congressional delegation have
come out in opposition to the offshore drilling plan. If passed,
Regunberg’s resolution would define the state legislature’s position on the

Aaron Regunberg is a State Representative from the 4th District. Regunberg
has served as a state representative since 2014. He was the lead sponsor
of successful legislation to raise Rhode Islanders’ wages, guarantee earned
sick time to over 100,000 working families in Rhode Island, expand
renewable energy, and protect the civil rights of all people.