Delaware Lawmakers Oppose Offshore Drilling Plan

The following letter was sent to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke regarding the department's draft offshore drilling plan.

January 18, 2018

The Honorable Ryan Zinke
Department of the Interior
Washington, DC

RE: Delaware Lawmakers Oppose Offshore Drilling Plan

Dear Secretary Zinke:

Rarely does an issue spark near-universal agreement today, but the plan your office recently unveiled to open 90 percent of the nation’s offshore reserves to drilling has done just that. We write to you as members of the Delaware General Assembly to join Governor John Carney and Attorney General Matt Denn in opposing this drilling plan.

As a small coastal state, Delaware’s economy and ecology are dependent upon its waterways and surrounding areas. Any damage to those areas could have significant ramifications for our state.

Despite a population of less than 1 million residents, Delaware welcomes more than 7 million visitors annually to just two of the many beach communities along our coast, and tourism is a $7 billion industry that allows thousands of small businesses to thrive. First State watermen rely on their catches from local waters to feed their families. And several unique animal species, such as horseshoe crabs, red knots and piping plovers, call Delaware’s coastline home.

Opening these offshore drilling sites to private leases opens the door to oil spills and other environmental hazards. While they might not be on the level of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, any spill or mishap would jeopardize our tourism industry, threaten wildlife habitats and upend residents’ way and quality of life.

Since 1969, there have been at least 44 oil spills, each more than 10,000 barrels (420,000 gallons), affecting U.S. waters. Delaware has experienced the effects of two of these spills: Corinthos (1975) and Grand Eagle (1985). We do not want to revisit those incidents, and we will do everything we can to prevent these disasters from occurring along our coast.

Our opposition is not rooted in partisan or political ideology, but in safeguarding our environment, our economy and our way of life. Coastal state governors of both parties have expressed their outright opposition, and we understand that you already are exempting some states such as Florida from this drilling proposal.

For these reasons, we oppose this draft plan, and we strongly urge you to reconsider it and remove any sites that could impact the First State from the plan. We hope after you visit Delaware and meet with Governor Carney that you agree with our assessment.


Rep. Debra J. Heffernan                                 Sen. Harris B. McDowell, III
Chair, Natural Resources Committee             Chair, Natural Resources Committee  

Rep. Peter C. Schwartzkopf                           Sen. David B. McBride
Speaker of the House                                      Senate President Pro Tempore        

Rep. Valerie J. Longhurst                               Sen. Margaret Rose Henry
House Majority Leader                                   Senate Majority Leader                          

Rep. John J. Viola                                           Sen. Nicole Poore
House Majority Whip                                     Senate Majority Whip                     

Rep. Michael P. Mulrooney                            Sen. Stephanie Hansen
Vice-Chair, Natural Resources Committee     Member, Natural Resources Committee                       

Rep. David S. Bentz                                       Sen. Jack Walsh
Member, Natural Resources Committee         Member, Natural Resources Committee                                   

Rep. Gerald L. Brady                                   Rep. William J. Carson         
Member, Natural Resources Committee         Member, Natural Resources Committee           

Rep. John A. Kowalko Jr.                               Rep. S. Quinton Johnson
Member, Natural Resources Committee         Member, Natural Resources Committee 

Rep. W. Charles “Trey” Paradee III
Member, Natural Resources Committee

DE Lawmakers - Opposition to Offshore Drilling Plan.pdf259.61 KB