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Virginia Beach, Virginia.  (Photo: Sharon Flowers/flickr/cc)

'When You Drill, You Spill': Hundreds of East Coast Businesses Tell Obama to Ditch Offshore Plans

"Our coasts are worth too much to risk."

Andrea Germanos

"When you drill, you spill."

That's what owners of hundreds of small businesses along the U.S. Atlantic coast have written in a letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to ditch any plans for offshore drilling in the region.

The letter (pdf), sent Thursday and organized by Environment America, states, "Our coasts are worth too much to risk."

There isn't offshore drilling there at the moment, but the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced in January a draft proposal to hand out oil and gas drilling leases for 2017-2022 in areas in the Mid- and South-Atlantic "[a]s part of President Obama's all-of-the-above energy strategy."

The over 300 signatories caution against the proposal, saying potential short term gains are dwarfed by the immense potential costs to the region's tourism and fishing industries. One needs to "[l]ook no further than the devastation the BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe brought to the Gulf of Mexico’s fishing, tourism and wildlife to recognize the impact drilling would have here on the Atlantic Coast," they write.

The letter concludes, "Rather than exposing our beaches, families and businesses to the inherent risks of drilling, we need to move this country in the direction of renewable energy. Thus [we] are calling on you to halt plans to drill off the Atlantic coast."

Rachel Richardson, director of Environment America’s Stop Drilling program, reiterated the concerns, saying in a statement: "Atlantic drilling would threaten our beaches, our wildlife, and our families."

"The hundreds of businesses who signed today’s letter show that drilling would also threaten our coastal economy," Richardson continued. "That’s why we’re calling on the president to drop his plans for more drilling and spilling, and to double down on clean energy instead."

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