Brittany ComakJan 26, 2018, 10:37 pm

Lawmakers, environmentalist: Offshore drilling will pollute marine habitats

Dept. of the Interior plans to open up 90 percent of the country’s coastal areas for energy resources


NORTHPORT — Surrounded by sea animals at the Riverhead Aquarium Friday, local lawmakers and activists protested the Dept. of the Interior's most recent proposal to possibly open up 90 percent of coastal waterways to off shore drilling.

In a statement, at the beginning of the month, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said:

"Responsibly developing our energy resources on the Outer Continental Shelf in a safe and well-regulated way is important to our economy and energy security, and it provides billions of dollars to fund the conservation of our coastlines, public lands and parks."

However lawmakers like Rep. Lee Zeldin say the plan threatens the health of coastal areas like Long Island and opens them up to more pollution and long term issues, including damage to wildlife.

"It would have negative consequences on the Long Island environment, the Long Island economy, and our way of life," Congressman Zeldin said.

According to the department, the plan is not yet a final decision, and public comment on the issue around the country will continue until March 9. At the protest, environmentalists and officials called for the department to extend the time they’ll hold public comment and to hold a public meeting on Long Island.

"No! No to opening up 90 percent of the Outer Continental Shelf to oil and gas exploration. No to potentially devastating the lifestyle and the quality of life that we know, and no to polluting our oceans, which we need, and are at the basis of our food chain," said Citizens Campaign for the Environment Adrienne Esposito.

Residents who would like to participate in the public comment period can submit their opinion online, or attend the public meeting in Albany, which will be on Feb. 15.

FiOS1 News reached out to the Dept. of the Interior for further comment on the protest but have not heard back.

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