Press Release

Attorneys General Fight Administration's Offshore Drilling Plans

Attorneys general oppose plans to expand drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts and in the Gulf of Mexico.

Wash­ing­ton, D.C.— A coali­tion of 12 state attor­neys gen­er­al, led by Mary­land Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bri­an Frosh, filed com­ments with the Depart­ment of the Inte­ri­or today express­ing strong oppo­si­tion to plans to expand drilling off the Atlantic and Pacif­ic Coasts and in the Gulf of Mexico.

In their com­ments, the attor­neys gen­er­al wrote, The Sec­re­tary of the Inte­ri­or should defer to our oppo­si­tion to drilling in areas off our states’ coasts, and should exclude all such areas from any new or revised [Out­er Con­ti­nen­tal Shelf] leas­ing pro­gram. Indeed, fail­ure to do so would be incon­sis­tent with the Out­er Con­ti­nen­tal Shelf Lands Act…and the Depart­ment of Interior’s past prac­tice of not impos­ing off­shore drilling over state opposition.”

Expand­ing the scope of oil and gas leas­ing on the OCS runs direct­ly counter to the imper­a­tive to reduce depen­dence on fos­sil fuels and accel­er­ate the shift towards renew­able sources of ener­gy. Glob­al tem­per­a­tures are ris­ing and severe weath­er events are becom­ing more fre­quent, due large­ly to emis­sions from human con­sump­tion of fos­sil fuels. The con­se­quences for our plan­et — includ­ing melt­ing glac­i­ers, ris­ing sea lev­els, famines, and extinc­tions — are grave and, in many instances, irre­versible,” wrote the attor­neys general.

Maryland’s coast and the Chesa­peake Bay are among our most pre­cious nat­ur­al resources,” said Attor­ney Gen­er­al Frosh. The dan­gers that off­shore drilling pos­es to our coastal envi­ron­ment and econ­o­my, includ­ing the Chesa­peake Bay, are sim­ply too great to accept. Instead of open­ing these areas to off­shore drilling for fos­sil fuels, we should be focus­ing our efforts on increas­ing the devel­op­ment and use of wind, solar, and oth­er forms of renew­able energy.”

‘Drill, baby, drill?’ Not if state attor­neys gen­er­al have their way. Sec­re­tary Zinke can expect a fierce chal­lenge unless he changes course,” said David J. Hayes, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the State Ener­gy & Envi­ron­men­tal Impact Cen­ter. The state attor­neys gen­er­al have filed what could – and might be – the open­ing brief in a legal action against Secretary’s attempt to reverse course on the Department’s five-year plan, after only one year of its imple­men­ta­tion, and over the vehe­ment objec­tions of coastal states. Sim­ply put, Zinke’s pro­pos­al, punc­tu­at­ed by his tweet­ed release of Flori­da from the plan, is arbi­trary and capri­cious and vio­lates the Out­er Con­ti­nen­tal Shelf Lands Act.”

LINK: Read Six Attor­ney Gen­er­al State­ments Issued Today on Off­shore Drilling

In addi­tion to Mary­land, attor­neys gen­er­al from the fol­low­ing states sub­mit­ted the com­ments: Cal­i­for­nia; Con­necti­cut; Maine; Mass­a­chu­setts; New Jer­sey; New York; North Car­oli­na; Ore­gon; Rhode Island; Vir­ginia; and Washington.

Attor­neys gen­er­al have also sent state-spe­cif­ic com­ments to the Depart­ment of the Interior:

  • Cal­i­for­nia-spe­cif­ic com­ments filed by Attor­ney Gen­er­al Xavier Becerra
  • Mass­a­chu­setts-spe­cif­ic com­ments filed by Attor­ney Gen­er­al Mau­ra Healey
  • New York-spe­cif­ic com­ments filed by Attor­ney Gen­er­al Eric Schneiderman
  • Rhode Island-spe­cif­ic com­ments filed by Attor­ney Gen­er­al Peter Kilmartin
  • Vir­ginia-spe­cif­ic com­ments filed by Attor­ney Gen­er­al Mark Herring
  • Wash­ing­ton-spe­cif­ic com­ments filed by Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Ferguson


State attor­neys gen­er­al have been out­spo­ken in their oppo­si­tion to off­shore drilling. At the end of Jan­u­ary, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Frosh led a coali­tion of six state attor­neys gen­er­al in fil­ing com­ments oppos­ing the Depart­ment of the Inte­ri­or’s pro­pos­al to scrap safe­ty mea­sures imple­ment­ed for off­shore oil and gas pro­duc­tion in the wake of the 2010 Deep­wa­ter Hori­zon explo­sion off the Gulf Coast. The fol­low­ing day, North Car­oli­na Attor­ney Gen­er­al Josh Stein led a coali­tion of 12 attor­neys gen­er­al in send­ing a let­ter to Inte­ri­or Sec­re­tary Zinke urg­ing him to ter­mi­nate Interior’s plan in the Draft Pro­posed Pro­gram to expand off­shore drilling.

A new State Ener­gy & Envi­ron­men­tal Impact Cen­ter report, State Attor­neys Gen­er­al: 13 Months of Crit­i­cal Actions,” shows that state attor­neys gen­er­al have tak­en at least 80 actions to advance and defend pro­gres­sive clean ener­gy, cli­mate and envi­ron­men­tal laws and poli­cies since Jan­u­ary 2017.

ABOUT THE STATE ENER­GY & ENVI­RON­MEN­TAL IMPACT CEN­TER: The State Ener­gy & Envi­ron­men­tal Impact Cen­ter is a non-par­ti­san Cen­ter at the NYU School of Law that is ded­i­cat­ed to help­ing state attor­neys gen­er­al fight against reg­u­la­to­ry roll­backs and advo­cate for clean ener­gy, cli­mate change, and envi­ron­men­tal val­ues and pro­tec­tions. It was launched in August 2017 with sup­port from Bloomberg Phil­an­thropies. For more infor­ma­tion, vis­it http://​www​.law​.nyu​.edu/​c​e​n​t​e​r​s​/​s​t​a​t​e​-​i​mpact.