OCEAN CITY — The Obama administration this month announced it was moving to permanently protect a vast area off the Atlantic coast from offshore drilling for oil and natural gas reserves.
Utilizing his authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, President Barack Obama last Tuesday announced he was withdrawing roughly 3.8 million acres in the north and mid-Atlantic from future offshore drilling for oil and natural gas reserves. The measure formally protects the 31 offshore canyons from New England to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay including the Baltimore, Poor Man’s, Washington and Norfolk Canyons accessible from Ocean City and the mid-Atlantic coast.
In January 2015, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced a proposal to lease a vast area off the mid-Atlantic coast for oil and natural gas exploration and eventually excavation as part of the Obama administration’s larger strategy to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production. The proposal was immediately hit with a groundswell of resistance from environmental groups and coastal communities, many of which wrote strong letters of opposition to the proposal, including Ocean City, Worcester County and Berlin locally.