Americans across the country treasure our oceans and coastlines. They provide endless opportunities for recreation, contribute a great deal to our economy, and are home to a wide array of wildlife. From Florida to New Jersey to California, our coasts are truly a part of our natural heritage.
Our government has long placed a high value on protecting our coasts. Congress instituted the first offshore oil and gas drilling moratorium in 1982. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush added a separate set of protections on new coastal drilling, which President Bill Clinton extended through 2012, protecting large and sensitive areas off the Atlantic, Pacific and eastern Gulf coasts.
America's oceans have faced ever greater danger over the last several years. In July of 2008, George W. Bush removed the presidential offshore drilling moratorium that his father had put in place 17 years earlier. A few months later, Congress allowed its own moratorium to expire, leaving our coasts open to drilling for the first time since 1982.
Drilling and other threats to our coasts are not just an environmental issue- they are also an economic one. Travel and tourism is the largest industry in America, and it is estimated that beach tourism contributes about $322 billion annually to the economy. Commercial and recreational fishing contribute several billion dollars more. These important industries cannot survive without healthy coasts and oceans.
Unfortunately, in March of 2010, the Obama Administration unveiled a policy to greatly expand drilling off our coasts. Given that America consumes a quarter of the world's energy yet only contains 3% of the planet's oil, this disappointing action will do little to impact prices at the pump and nothing to transition us to a clean energy economy that creates jobs and reduces global warming pollution. LCV will continue working with the Obama administration and Congress to fight efforts to expand offshore drilling and further strengthen our ocean policy.