In a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Gov.-elect Ralph Northam requested Thursday that Virginia be excluded from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) plans to expand offshore drilling off of all U.S. waters. The request follows Zinke’s announcement that Florida will be exempted from the plan.
“I grew up on Virginia’s Eastern Shore and can tell you firsthand that the Chesapeake Bay and the commonwealth’s ocean and coastal resources are every bit as ecologically and economically valuable as those of Florida, a state that was recently exempted from the leasing plan,” Northam said in the letter. “I am encouraged by the decision to exempt Florida from the plan, and respectfully ask that the same exemption be made for the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
Northam pointed out that nearly half of the economy of the Hampton Roads region is tied to its military assets. “Less than two years ago, the Department of Defense raised material objections to the incompatibility of drilling with naval operations off Virginia’s coast. Nothing should be done to jeopardize our strong position with the military in Virginia.”