I grew up in a small fishing town on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, so I understand the effects offshore drilling would have on coastal communities. The economies of these areas rely heavily on clean water and unspoiled coastlines. The federal government’s intention to allow offshore drilling poses serious environmental threats and could be devastating to the economies of coastal states.
For all states that have coastlines, tourism is an important industry. In Virginia, for example, tourism is the fifth-largest private employer, generating $24 billion annually and supporting 230,000 jobs. Tourism is also responsible for $1.7 billion in state and local taxes.
Nearly one-fourth of Virginia’s tourism revenue comes from our coastal regions, and that would be threatened by offshore drilling. In 2010, an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, causing a massive oil spill that lasted for months and damaged the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Communities on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts are well aware of this catastrophe and eager to avoid a similar fate.