New Study on Connecticut's Coastal Economy Renews Calls to Reduce Off Shore Oil Exploration Efforts
The Environment Connecticut study found that coastal tourism and fishing businesses generate $4.63 billion annually and provide nearly 90,000 jobs. And that's just a small portion of the total impact those industries have on the Northeast as a whole: These businesses generate $62.3 billion and employ over 1.15 million people.
Environment Connecticut officials say that if a spill of the same magnitude as BP's Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico were to occur in the North Atlantic, it would cover 650 miles of coastline.
“As we saw this summer with BP’s disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, oil drilling is still a dirty and dangerous business that usually brings some spilling," said Joe Blass, a field associate with Environment Connecticut . "The potential returns from offshore drilling are not worth the risk of destroying our coasts and taking away more of our jobs."
The federal government last month lifted a ban on deep water oil drilling it had put in place after the BP spill. But oil industry have accused government officials of dragging their feet when it comes to issuing the necessary permits to resume the work.
The Environment Connecticut study also claims that the annual value of tourism and fishing along the Northeast coast, including Connecticut, is nearly 12 times higher than the annual value of any oil or gas that might be found there.
“Long Island Sound is the cultural and economic heart of this region,” said Leah Schmalz, Director of Legislative and Legal Affairs for Save the Sound, a Program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment. “As this report highlights, its value not only lies in its critical ability to promote traditional New England industries, like commercial shell fishing, tourism, and trade, but also in its intrinsic value as a home to citizens and wildlife alike.”