Raimondo leads event to show state leadership opposition to offshore oil drilling

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI/AP) — At the University of Rhode Island on Monday morning, Governor Gina Raimondo led her Democratic colleagues, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rep. Jim Langevin and Rep. David Cicilline, in showing opposition to the White House’s proposal to open coastal waters for offshore oil drilling.

On behalf of the Trump administration, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has proposed a vast expansion of offshore drilling that would open 90 percent of the nation’s offshore reserves to development by private companies.

Raimondo said power needs to be harnessed through offshore wind power, not drilling for oil.

“This proposal threatens our coasts, our ecosystems and multiple sectors of our economy,” she said, including tourism and the fishing industry.

Monday’s event was to encourage Rhode Islanders to “voice concerns” at a public meeting Feb. 28 in Providence, where the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will take input.

Less than a decade ago, Raimondo noted, the Deepwater Horizon spill allowed 4 million barrels of oil to leak into the Gulf of Mexico, contaminated more than 1,000 miles of shoreline and left 11 workers dead.

Republican State Rep. Patricia Morgan issued a statement Monday in opposition to the Democrats’ stance:

“Governor Raimondo once again chose to be a politician rather than the leader our state needs by engaging in political theater. Governor Raimondo seems to think holding a rally is more important than working with the Administration to secure a waiver for our state’s coastal waters. She continues to put politics ahead of results.”

For more information on the meetings, or to submit comments, go to the BOEM’s website.