Cunningham Bill to Permanently Ban Offshore Drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts Passes Committee

June 19, 2019
Press Release


Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Joe Cunningham’s bipartisan legislation to permanently ban offshore oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts passed the House Committee on Natural Resources. H.R. 1941, The Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act, fulfills a major promise of Cunningham’s to ensure there is never offshore drilling off South Carolina’s coastline.  Republican Rep. Francis Rooney was an original cosponsor of his bill.

Watch Cunningham’s remarks from today’s committee hearing HERE.

“South Carolinians have made it abundantly clear they want nothing to do with offshore drilling and the devastating threat it poses to our vibrant natural resources and coastal economies,” said Rep. Joe Cunningham. “Folks on both sides of the aisle are united in opposition to offshore drilling, and it’s critical we get this done for them. Our beaches, our economy, and our way of life are not for sale and today’s passage through Committee is an important step towards ensuring that never changes.”  

The economic and environmental risks to our coastal economies which offshore drilling creates far outweigh any potential benefits. Seismic testing and drilling threaten our fish and marine mammal populations.  The industrial infrastructure needed to support offshore drilling, and ultimately offshore production of oil and gas, is wholly incompatible with the economies of our coastal communities. There is no place in our bays, full of recreational vessels, for tank farms, docks, mooring balls, and other equipment which is necessary to support the numerous offshore supply vessels and barges supplying the rigs and platforms. Finally, with the United States now having more conventional oil reserves than Russia or Saudi Arabia, we don’t need to take these risks to be energy secure anymore,” said Rep. Francis Rooney.

“This important bill is designed to protect the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, wildlife and communities from the risks of another BP-style disaster. It is in direct response from leaders and communities along these coasts that strongly oppose offshore drilling and the risks that it brings. All members of Congress who care about healthy oceans, marine life, and our coastal economies should support this critical legislation,” said Alexandra Adams, Legislative Director, Nature Program, Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Oceana applauds Representatives Cunningham and Rooney for leading important legislation to protect our coast from dirty and dangerous offshore drilling,” said Diane Hoskins, Oceana campaign director.  “Congress should permanently protect our oceans from the threat of offshore drilling. With broad, bipartisan opposition up and down the Atlantic, Pacific and Florida’s Gulf Coast, we urge all Members of Congress to vote yes on these bills when they are brought to the floor.”

Highlights from Rep. Cunningham’s remarks below:

There are certain things that go beyond politics.  Things that touch all of us regardless of our party affiliation or our ideology.  Offshore drilling is one of them – whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, or Independent. It touches each of us. This is why South Carolina is the leading voice in opposition to offshore drilling.

We have a mixed delegation. We have a Republican Governor, Henry McMaster, who has been opposed to offshore drilling and that’s what’s brought us all here together today.

Today we’re discussing H.R. 1941, the Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act.  I am proud to lead this bipartisan legislation that would permanently remove the threat of offshore drilling from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

After two years of developing an offshore oil and gas leasing program that would expose America’s coastal economies and communities to the risks of oil spills and economic disaster, the Administration announced they are hitting pause because of a recent court case.

At the same time, the Administration is moving forward with allowing companies to search for oil and gas deposits using harmful seismic blasts in the Atlantic Ocean, and the Assistant Secretary of Interior in charge of offshore drilling said, and I quote, “we wouldn’t work really, really hard to get seismic permits out if that area wasn’t going to be available.”

This is exactly why we have to pass H.R. 1941.

The tourism and fishing economies of the Atlantic and Pacific, which depend on clean water and healthy beaches, are worth much more than whatever would be gained by needlessly drilling for oil and gas off these shorelines. 

Let’s please not forget that tourism is a 22.6-billion-dollar industry in South Carolina and supports one in every 10 jobs in the Palmetto State. These jobs are sustainable, too – South Carolina is not going to run out of sunshine, and our tourism industry will not collapse if the price of oil goes down.