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Kathy Sullivan: Offshore drilling plan is Trump's latest mistake

January 08. 2018 8:48PM

Trump World continued to be a weird place last week.

The leader of the free world exchanged juvenile insults with Kim Jong-un, claiming his button was bigger. Trump’s approach has yielded the prospect of closer ties between North Korea and South Korea. If one has to choose between two crazy leaders, better to have good relations with the one whose nuclear arsenal is next door.

Hot on the heels of Korea came the blow up over the Michael Wolff book, “Fire and Fury.”

I am not sure what the big fuss is about. Anyone who has not drunk the Trump Kool-Aid knows that Donald Trump is both intellectually lazy and a little crazy. At best, he is the worst President since Millard Fillmore; at worst, the worst President ever in the history of the universe.

Also last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he was unleashing federal prosecutors to enforce federal anti-marijuana laws. This decision comes as states continue to loosen marijuana laws or legalize its use for medicinal and/or recreational purposes. Both Republican and Democratic officials attacked the decision.

Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado was reported as saying that both Trump and Sessions assured him that backtracking on marijuana would not be a focus for the administration before he voted to confirm Sessions.

What? Donald Trump lied about something? Quelle surprise!

As the week wrapped up, Trump announced he was a stable genius, and attacked the media for the gazillionth time for being critical of him.

All this news overshadowed a decision that in a normal world would be huge news, one that could have consequences for New Hampshire, as well as every other coastal state.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced that offshore oil and gas drilling would be allowed in nearly all United States coastal waters.

The energy industry reacted joyfully. The president of the American Energy Alliance said, “These are our lands. They’re taxpayer-owned and they should be made available.”

What is it about energy companies that make them think they are entitled to despoil all public lands, and now public waters?

There was bipartisan outrage to the announcement, including Republican Gov. Rick Scott of Florida. His state suffered the consequences of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan oppose the plan, as does Gov. Chris Sununu. That is a good thing, as drilling and spilling could devastate our small but vital coastline. We need to be vigilant about the entire coast, not just New Hampshire’s small portion. Oil rig and tanker spills affect wide swaths of shoreline.

The Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010 affected the coastlines of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. New safety regulations were put in after that catastrophe, but guess what? The Trump administration has rolled those back.

Drilling in the Atlantic would increase tanker traffic, and increase the risk of spills affecting the Atlantic seaboard. Just 14 years ago, a tanker hit rocks in Buzzards Bay, spilling 98,000 gallons. Ninety miles of shoreline in Massachusetts and Rhode Island were affected. The environmental effects are still felt today.

In short, a spill off the coast of Maine or the coast of Massachusetts could have a major impact on New Hampshire’s beaches and estuaries.

New Hampshire has had to fight before to protect its coast. In 1974, residents of Durham voted down a plan to build an oil refinery in the Great Bay. Had the plan passed, a pipeline would have been built between Durham and the Isles of Shoals, where tankers would have delivered oil.

Granite Staters stood up to Gov. Mel Thomson, Union Leader Publisher William Loeb, and developer Aristotle Onassis to stop that travesty. It is time to fight again.

The governors of all the Atlantic coast states, and their congressional delegations, need to work together with their Pacific Coast counterparts to stop this harebrained Trump administration scheme.

And the Trump administration needs to stop putting the interests of big energy corporations ahead of the interests of the people.

Manchester’s Kathy Sullivan is the former chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

Energy Environment Politics Kathy Sullivan

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