Ocean City Today

Resort sees no merit in offshore oil drilling

Reinforces stance held for more than four decades with additional resolution
By Greg Ellison | Feb 22, 2018

(Feb. 23, 2018) While the prospect of wind turbines off the coast of Ocean City sets officials’ teeth on edge, the possibility of offshore oil drilling is more of a nightmare scenario in resort government’s view.

On Jan. 4, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management released a draft proposal for its 2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, which would open more than 98 percent of the Outer Continental Shelf for potential oil and gas leases. Three proposed locations are off the coast of Maryland.

Reiterating its position for more than four decades, the City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution opposing offshore oil and gas drilling.

“While we support most of the benefits of offshore wind,” Mayor Rick Meehan said, “we can’t find anything that benefits the Town of Ocean City [or] the State of Maryland … in having drilling for gas and oil off the Atlantic coast.”

Meehan traced local government’s continuing concern back to a comparable resolution in Oct. 1974. Signed by then Ocean City Mayor Harry Kelly, the resolution noted the serious potential for “polluting the natural environment of Maryland’s only seashore resort.”

In September 2015, the council passed a resolution against a Bureau of Ocean Energy Management proposal to permit seismic blasting for oil and gas exploration off the Maryland coast.

“We’ve been very clear in our opposition,” he said.

The 2018 resolution describes the proposed actions as a “clear and present danger,” to Ocean City due to the discharge of production waste, the potential for catastrophic oil spills and possible visual impacts.

“This resolution will be sent to the governor of the State of Maryland and our congressional representatives,” he said.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s Draft Proposed Program is the first of three analytical phases required to develop its 2019-2024 leasing program. The 60-day period for public comment ends March 9.

“There will be an additional comment period if they move on to the next phase of this project,” he said.

Meehan said the city plans to send written comments to the bureau and encourages all concerned parties to weigh in online or via mail.

“There are going to be those that comment for it that live in Montana maybe, but we all live here so let’s make sure we comment,” he said.

For general information or to submit comments visit boem.gov/national-program or send mail to: National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program Development Manager Kelly Hammerle, Office of Strategic Resources, Mail Stop: VAM-LD, 45600 Woodland Road, Sterling, VA 20166-9216. Label envelopes, “Comments for the 2019-2024 Draft Proposed National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program.”

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