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Editorial: State must protect its coastline

Editorial: State must protect its coastline

New York should join legal efforts to challenge Trump administration's plan for off-shore fuel drilling.
Editorial: State must protect its coastline
A beach in North Fork, N.Y., Nov. 11, 2017.
Photographer: Tara Striano/The New York Times

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman reached a milestone of sorts around Christmas time.

He’s taken 100 legal or administrative actions against the new Trump administration over such matters as the foreign travel ban (three of them), birth control coverage, pollution standards, civil rights and net neutrality.

The decision by the Trump administration to open up the state’s coastal waters to oil drilling should be action Number 101.

Earlier this week, President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced plans to tap the ocean for gas and oil by forcing unwilling coastal states to open up their waters to oil and gas exploration.

It’s a fallacy that this country needs to open up new sources of fuel. U.S. dependence on foreign oil hit a 30-year low in 2016 and the numbers are expected to continue to go down. We’re developing new sources of fuel, including solar and wind, all the time.

There’s no legitimate need to risk massive oil spills like the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 that spilled 4.9 million barrels of oil into the sea, taking up as much as 68,000 square miles of ocean and affecting more than 125 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline. Eight years later, wildlife in the region continues to be severely affected by the spill.

New York has 127 miles of ocean coastline, a good chunk of it along the coast of Long Island, which features Montauk, Jones Beach, the Hamptons and numerous state parks.

The revenue generated from tourism, fishing, boating and residential properties from those assets alone is astronomical, not counting the quality of life that these ocean shorelines provide to millions of New Yorkers and visitors.

Already, other affected coastal cities and states have threatened to take to the courts to stop the decision before any permits are issued.

The city council in Charleston, S.C., is among several South Carolina coastal communities, for instance, considering joining a lawsuit being considered by the South Carolina Environmental Law Project in response to any authorization of seismic testing or offshore drilling.

New York needs to use its experience bringing legal action against the federal government and take the lead on making sure this ill-considered, environmentally dangerous and economically devastating plan doesn’t get off the drawing board.

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