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By Charlotte Silverman

As a scientist, researcher and founder of my own start-up, I know how important it is to make decisions about public health and national security that are based on sound science. Unfortunately, despite overwhelming evidence that offshore drilling threatens Virginia’s natural environment, health and military operations, Congressman Rob Wittman, who represents Virginia’s 1st District, continues to support President Donald Trump’s plan to radically expand offshore drilling nationwide, including off the coast of our state.

Recently, in a move that highlights powerful, bipartisan opposition to dangerous offshore drilling, Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to block expanded offshore drilling and seismic airgun blasting as part of the annual Interior-Environment funding bill. Congressman Wittman voted against these important protections, ignoring constituents like me and the numerous studies that expose drilling for what it is: dirty and dangerous.

Offshore drilling, and the coastal industrialization it would require, is incompatible with Virginia’s clean coast economy, an economy fueled by tourism, recreation and fisheries that supports 86,000 jobs and $4.8 billion in GDP each year

Virginia is fighting against Trump’s radical offshore drilling plan. Leaders from all walks of life and across the political spectrum have come together to stand up for the health of our 3,300 miles of shoreline. A total of 24 Virginia municipalities, including Urbanna, Tappahannock, Montross and Middlesex County, have passed resolutions opposing offshore drilling, part of a national movement of over 360 communities that oppose oil and gas development off their shores. As our elected leaders fight to protect their constituents and their coastal way of life, why is Congressman Wittman ignoring our calls to oppose offshore drilling?

Fortunately, there will also be an opportunity for Congress to take permanent action in the coming months. U.S. Reps. Joe Cunningham of South Carolina and Francis Rooney of Florida have introduced bipartisan legislation to ban offshore drilling along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act (H.R. 1941), would provide critical protections for Virginia’s tourism, recreation and fishing industries and the communities that depend on them.

We are counting on all of our members of Congress to protect Virginia from offshore drilling activities, especially Congressman Wittman. Opening Virginia’s coast to offshore drilling would trap our local businesses and residents in a dirty and dangerous deal. We have the science, and now we have proposed policy measures to protect Virginia’s coast. It’s time to say “no” to offshore drilling and to a future we don’t want. Congressman Wittman – it’s time for you to protect our coast. 

Charlotte Silverman of Lancaster is a scientist and vice president of a consulting and recruiting company.