Habr: Don’t drill off Virginia’s shore

Habr: Don’t drill off Virginia’s shore

The Roanoke Times
March 17, 2017

In “Trump should tap off-shore energy” (March 12 commentary), David Ramadan writes from his perch in Northern Virginia to offer up Virginia’s coastal homes and businesses to offshore drilling — but he does not speak for us.

If one thing was clear following the recent debate over opening the Southeast coast to offshore drilling, it’s the communities that would be affected do not want it. Since it was proposed in 2015, more than 120 coastal cities and towns have passed resolutions against Atlantic drilling and seismic testing.

As the owner of a Virginia Beach restaurant, I am one of thousands of businesses and trade groups that also have come out against offshore drilling or raised serious concerns about the risks, including the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging, and Travel Association, Virginia Beach Restaurant Association, Virginia Beach Hotel Association, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Southeastern Fisheries Association, and the International Game Fish Association.

While Ramadan continues to offer up economic promises from the oil and gas industry that have been thoroughly debunked, he ignores the incredible economic risk that offshore drilling poses to Virginia’s coastal tourism economy. The Southeast coast is built around a thriving tourism industry that attracts visitors from around the world to coastal communities and waters that could be devastated with a single major oil spill. Even without a catastrophic accident, the industrialization and infrastructure associated with drilling — the rigs, refineries, pipelines and traffic — would irreparably change coastal communities and our thriving tourism economy.

The risk is even greater for Virginia, as the Department of Defense’s concern about offshore drilling’s impacts on military operations was another driving reason the proposal was scrapped. Even elected officials who at one point pushed for drilling have taken a look at the overwhelming public opposition, the economic analysis, and the military concerns and concluded the obvious: It’s not worth the risk.

LAURA HABR

VIRGINIA BEACH

Laura Habr serves on the Board of Directors of the Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast and is the Vice President of the Virginia Beach Restaurant Association.