Reps. McEachin, Luria, and Jones Introduced Bipartisan Offshore Drilling Bill

January 8, 2019
Press Release
The Defend our Coast Act would protect Virginia’s coastal communities by prohibiting offshore drilling along the Mid-Atlantic Coastline

WASHINGTON – Representatives A. Donald McEachin (VA-04), Elaine Luria (VA-02), and Walter B. Jones (NC-03) co-introduced the bipartisan Defend our Coast Act to prohibit the Department of the Interior from issuing leases for the exploration, development or production of oil or gas on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) in the mid-Atlantic (North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware).

“I am re-introducing the Defend our Coast Act as my first bill of the 116th Congress because I am determined to do everything I can to protect our coastal communities. History has shown us that offshore drilling accidents can threaten public health, military operations, and marine life. The potential toll from a spill—in terms of damages, injuries, deaths, and other harms—is incalculable,” said Congressman Donald McEachin. “Offshore drilling has no place off the coast of Virginia. Our jobs, tourism, ecosystems, and local economies are not worth the risk that comes with offshore drilling. We need to invest in clean renewable energies that do not damage our one Earth.”

“Offshore drilling is a direct threat to my district. It has the potential to hurt our environment, our military, and our economy,” Congresswoman Elaine Luria (VA-02) said. “As a 20-year Navy veteran who trained off the Virginia coast, I know that having to dodge oil platforms would disrupt operations, impact readiness, and undermine our national security. And as an oceanfront small business owner, I know what offshore drilling could do to Virginia’s shorelines, tourism industry, and aquaculture. I’m proud to work across state lines and party lines to ensure that we can ban offshore drilling in the Hampton Roads region and beyond.”

The Defend our Coast Act would specifically forbid any drilling or exploration for fossil fuels on the Continental Shelf in the mid-Atlantic region. Additional cosponsors of the legislation include: Representatives Don Beyer, Gerald Connolly, David Price, and Bobby Scott.

“The Trump administration has ignored the broad public outcry to stop its disastrous plan to open our coasts to the hazards and harms of offshore drilling,” said Alexandra Adams, Legislative Director, Nature Program, Natural Resources Defense Council. “Today members of congress from across the country are introducing legislation to protect our coasts, communities and climate.  The Trump administration should take note that it serves the public—not the oil industry—and abandon its reckless drilling plan once and for all.”

“There is not a single city council or county board on the Virginia coast that supports oil drilling, and we’re thankful Reps. McEachin and Luria are making sure Washington hears that clearly,” said Deborah Murray, senior attorney in Southern Environmental Law Center’s Virginia office. “It’s baffling why the Trump administration is trying to force something so universally unwanted on the people of Virginia, and we’re glad Reps. McEachin and Luria are willing to push back.”

“Offshore oil drilling would be an unacceptable risk not just to my livelihood as a Virginia Beach business owner, but it would also risk thousands of hospitality jobs and billions of tourism dollars”, said Laura Habr, Virginia Beach business owner and co-founder of the Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast. “I appreciate that Reps. McEachin and Luria are looking out for businesses like mine and working to protect the Virginia coast that keeps our economy thriving.”

“President Trump is turning his back on widespread and bipartisan local and state opposition to pursue his dirty and dangerous offshore drilling agenda. Congressman McEachin’s Defend our Coast Act stands with the citizens, businesses and elected officials from both parties and at every level of government who have all objected to expanded offshore drilling activities,” said Diane Hoskins, Offshore Drilling Campaign Director, Oceana. “Showing blatant disregard for the opposition to offshore drilling begs the question: Is this a government by and for the people, or is this a government by and for the oil industry.”


In 2017, the Trump Administration issued Executive Order 13795, which overturned the commonsense prohibition of offshore drilling, including off much of the Atlantic coast. With respect to the mid-Atlantic, President Trump’s and then-Secretary Zinke’s actions are in tension with the Department of Defense’s previously-expressed views that offshore drilling could impede military activities and hamper military readiness.

Contact: Jamitress Bowden
(202) 225-6365