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Delaware lawmakers pass legislation banning offshore drilling

Delaware Public Media

Gov. John Carney (D) is expected to sign legislation helping to protect Delaware beaches from possible offshore oil and natural gas drilling in the future.

President Donald Trump’s administration is proposing opening the entire U.S. coastline to offshore drilling where it makes sense to do it.

But State Sen. Ernie Lopez’s (R-Lewes) legislation would ban it in state waters and in Delaware’s Coastal Zone.

It would also prohibit the state’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control from issuing permits for offshore drilling in those waters.

State Sen. Harris McDowell (D-Wilmington) said not only could the view of oil rigs off Delaware’s beaches hurt tourism, there could also be damage from a spill.

“So, it’s not just a vision that’s at stake here," he said. "It’s the very lifeblood of our estuaries and our environment.”

State Sen. Colin Bonini  (R-Dover) said that while he doesn’t necessarily support the federal government’s plan, he also doesn’t support a blanket ban.

“Again, I just want to be very clear, I’m not advocating for drilling off Rehoboth Beach or anything, but I do think that we should address these things as they come,” he said.

Bonini also opposed offshore drilling legislation sponsored by Democratic State Sen. Stephanie Hansen for similar reasons. Her bill calls for state agencies to to review the state’s environmental laws and enforce Delaware’s legal rights.

But both bills did receive mostly bipartisan support.

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