The Northampton Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to readopt their earlier resolution opposing offshore drilling of Virginia’s eastern seaboard.
Chairman Spencer Murray noted that the county had received communication from representatives Kaine, Warner, and Taylor regarding the current plan which was announced on Jan. 4 by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. While current regulations mark 94 percent of the Outer Continental Shelf as off limits for offshore drilling, the new plan would make more than 90 percent of that area available for oil exploration. The announcement came nearly two years after the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, or BOEM, removed coastlines spanning from Virginia to Georgia from a preexisting offshore drilling plan.
Supervisor Coker was concerned that just one oil spill such as occurred with Deepwater Horizon, could affect jobs in the aquaculture and tourist industries, and it was not worth the risk
for the limited economic upturn that may result from this initiative.
Drilling could also have an adverse effect on the entire Coastal Virginia region. If one aircraft carrier was moved from Naval Station Norfolk to a different military base in another state, Hampton Roads could lose $1 billion in economic activity.
A DOD study shows offshore drilling could also impact military operations. The study evaluated the military’s mission compatibility with areas that were originally proposed for the offshore drilling program. It then ranked those areas using a color-coded system to show where oil exploration would be possible and impossible in order for the military to continue operating in potentially affected locations.