Experts agree that an oil spill would devastate the Seacoast’s ocean-based economy
RYE, NH— Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter today convened a roundtable of scientists, experts, and regional stakeholders at the Seacoast Science Center to discuss the potential consequences of the Trump administration’s decision to open New Hampshire’s shoreline to offshore oil and gas drilling.
“On January 4, the administration, without any local input, released new regulations that will open all of New England’s coastline to offshore drilling,” said Shea-Porter. “Tourism is New Hampshire’s second largest industry, and an oil spill would damage tourism, our local fishing industry, and the many small businesses and restaurants along our beautiful coast. The environmental damage and the financial cost of a cleanup would also be devastating. Fortunately, the governor and the delegation are united in our opposition to this new policy, and it’s important to share information with Granite Staters.”
Carroll Brown, the oil spill response director for New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services (NHDES), showed the audience pictures of the different vessels that would be used to clean up a spill and described the process of laying booms to isolate spilled oil.
Dr. Tom Lippman described how the currents within the Great Bay interact with the Piscataqua River in ways that could bring oil inland toward the Bay in the event of a spill.
Brian Gennaco, owner of the Virgin Oyster Company, an oyster farm in Great Bay, described the tedious and slow process of growing oysters from tiny seeds to three-inch oysters and how important good water quality is for oyster farmers.
“Water quality is a huge concern for oyster farmers,” said Brian Gennaco. “An animal that small is susceptible to any water quality impairments…One of the things people don’t understand is that oysters are different in that they are usually eaten raw, which means the water they come out of has to be food grade. There are very few areas where the water is clean enough to grow oysters, so any oil in the water would be a huge issue for us.”
Erik Anderson, a local fisherman, said New Hampshire’s fishing industry has already been hit hard, and the issue of oil drilling off the coast of New Hampshire is not to be ignored.
Dr. Erik Chapman, Acting Director of NH Sea Grant, read a statement from New Hampshire Coastal Marine Natural Resources and Environment Commission: “The New Hampshire Coastal Marine Natural Resources and Environment Commission expresses concern over the offshore drilling…”
Earlier this week, Dr. Chapman said this about the impact of offshore drilling: “New Hampshire’s important coastal and marine environments, fisheries, and aquaculture depend on clean waters. Seismic blasting and drilling, as well as transportation of crude oil and drilling equipment, would put those interests at risk.”
Peter Shelly of the Conservation Law Center described just a few of the many important reasons why the President’s proposal is a bad idea. He described how the circular current patterns in the Gulf of Maine and the ocean around George’s Bank would mix oil with critical elements of the ocean food pyramid.
“Because of George’s Bank, it is a fairly enclosed system that really isn’t open ocean,” said Peter Shelly. “That pattern matters because that’s where all the food and nutrition come up from the deep ocean and fuel the plankton that are the base of the food web. These patterns make oil drilling so dangerous, because oil would then be in the same circular patterns as all these animals and food sources in their most vulnerable stages…”
Rob Werner, Director of the League of Conservation Voters – NH, urged the audience to speak up and express their opinion during the public comment period.