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RICHMOND—The Commonwealth of Virginia today submitted comments opposing federal efforts to weaken the ability of states to protect their coastlines and related ocean resources from the negative impacts of offshore oil and gas drilling operations. Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler submitted the comments in response to an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) for Procedural Changes to the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued on March 11, 2019.
“Bypassing the will of states who oppose offshore drilling off our coasts poses severe threats to the health of our environment and our economy,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “Federal efforts are better spent supporting states in fighting climate change and protecting our precious natural resources.”
The Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) allows any state with a coastal management programs approved by NOAA to review all federal and federally permitted activities that have the potential to impact the state’s coastal resources. This “consistency review” process is a critical component of the CZMA, but the ANPR requests suggestions for altering this well-established process and proposes limiting the ability of states to defend their consistency determinations.
“When people propose to ‘streamline’ effective environmental rules, that’s code for weakening them,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler. “The existing CZMA regulations are already transparent and predictable, and they have a documented track record of minimizing conflict among stakeholders. We don’t need changes that would tip the scales in favor of irresponsible and unpopular offshore drilling.”
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