Delaware joins eight-state effort to ban oil, gas testing off coast

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Delaware Attorney General Matthew Denn and the Attorneys General of eight other Atlantic coast states applied to intervene in a lawsuit currently before the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina designed to halt federal efforts to allow private companies to test the Atlantic Ocean floor for oil and gas.

The State Attorneys General, led by Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, allege that the National Marine Fishery Service’s allowance of oil and gas surveying violates the Marine Mammals Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Administrative Procedures Act.

“Not only will the planned oil and gas surveys harm marine mammals in violation of federal law,” said Denn, “but they are another step toward allowing oil and gas drilling off the Delaware coast, something that would cause severe and irreparable harm to Delaware’s coastal and marine resources. We are grateful to Maryland’s Attorney General for leading this effort on behalf of states up and down the Atlantic coast.”

Noting that Maryland’s effort was bipartisan, led by Attorney General Frosh (a Democrat) and supported by Governor Hogan (a Republican), Denn said “Delawareans across party lines are united in their steadfast opposition to oil and gas drilling off Delaware’s coast. Senate Bill 207, which expressed the state’s opposition to such drilling, passed by overwhelming majorities in last year’s General Assembly.”

Support for oil exploration off the Atlantic has dwindled over the years in the region as major oil discoveries were made in Texas and North Dakota and massive natural gas reserves were found in Pennsylvania. The oil industry claims that seismic testing does not endanger marine life.

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