Friday March 29th, state director Carissa Maurin gave the following testimony on behalf of Enviornment Maine in support of Representative Mick Devin's LD 955 ‘An Act To Prohibit Offshore Oil and Natural Gas Drilling and Exploration’ which would prohibit activities relating to offshore oil and natural gas exploration, development and production within the boundaries and jurisdiction of the State. This bill will protect coastal communities from the economic and ecological risk from oil spills, the pollution caused by routine drilling operations as well as onshore industrialization. Her testimony is as following:

“Good morning Sen. Carson, Rep.Tucker, and distinguished members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Thank you for allowing me to present this testimony. My name is Carissa Maurin and I am the State Director at Environment Maine. I am speaking today in support of LD 955 ‘An Act To Prohibit Offshore Oil and Natural Gas Drilling and Exploration’.

When we drill, we spill – and when we spill off our shores, it can spell disaster for the whales, shellfish, and lobster that live in our oceans. Oil spills can cause immediate death or injury to marine wildlife and cause lasting harm by negatively affecting their reproductive capacity. Toxic compounds from oil spills accumulate up the food chain, beginning with zooplankton and working their way up to larger animals such as whales and seabirds. The BP Deepwater Horizon spill killed or injured almost 26,000 marine mammals, along with over 6,000 sea turtles and an estimated 800,000 coastal birds. The spill also contaminated over 1,300 miles of shoreline from Texas to Florida, including more than 600 miles of ecologically important coastal wetlands. Do we want to risk this happening in Maine?

Offshore drilling produces pollution at every step of the process – from exploration and drilling through the production, transportation and processing of oil. Drilling operations dump drilling fluid and metal cuttings into the ocean, with a single well discharging as much as 1,500 to 2,000 tons of waste material. Seabirds are killed and injured by colliding with offshore drilling platforms, becoming contaminated by oil, or being burned by flares. Each year, roughly 200,000 migratory birds are killed near offshore drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Infrastructure related to onshore oil transmission and distribution damages beaches, wetlands and coastal habitats. Natural areas that are visited and treasured by thousands of people are at risk of becoming tainted by pollution and damage from drilling, spills and onshore infrastructure. Also, siesmin blasting kills zooplankton which is food for our baby fish, our baby lobsters, and our shellfish. 

Maine relies on the ocean, from our lobsterman, clammers, worm diggers, seaweed harvesters, fisherman, and aquaculture farmers. We have 3,478 miles of coastline which is more than California (3,427), and over 5,000 miles of coast if you include all of the islands as well. Twenty-three years ago, tanker Julie N crashed into the bridge that connected Portland and South Portland, spilling 180,000 gallons of oil into the Fore River known as the worst oil spill in Maine’s history. I’d like to keep it that way. This spill was contained primarily to the Fore River, but approximately $40 million was spent on cleaning up only 14 miles of contaminated shoreline. Portland Harbor was closed, and fishing and shellfish harvesting was banned in parts of Casco Bay and the Fore River for more than a month. All that destruction from one tanker. Imagine now if it had been a oil well. The destruction and devastation would be unimaginable. Please don’t let that happen! Vote ought to pass on LD 955. Thank you.”