KERRY, KENNEDY INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO PERMANENTLY BAN DRILLING IN GEORGES BANK
Senators John Kerry and Edward Kennedy today introduced legislation to permanently ban drilling in Georges Bank, one of the most prolific fishing grounds in the Atlantic.
Under pressure from President Bush, who lifted the Presidential moratorium on offshore drilling earlier this year, the longstanding Congressional ban on offshore drilling will expire next Tuesday and all coastal waters three miles off the Massachusetts coastline - including Georges Bank - will be open to oil exploration.
"Fishing has been a way of life in Massachusetts for as long as our state has been in existence. Georges Bank is one of the richest fishing grounds in the world, and it is unconscionable to risk it all for the slim possibility of extracting a minuscule amount of oil and gas. Senator Kennedy and I, along with our colleagues in the House, will do everything we can to ensure no drilling occurs in Georges Bank now - or ever," said Senator Kerry.
"Senator Kennedy is committed to preserving the extraordinary fishing grounds of Georges Bank for generations to come. He feels it makes absolutely no sense to open these waters to drilling for oil and gas, and he'll continue to work with Senator Kerry and the Congressional delegation to pass this important legislation," said Melissa Wagoner, spokesperson for Senator Kennedy.
Georges Bank is vital to New England's economy. In fact, New Bedford is by far the most productive fishing port in the United States, in terms of value of catch. The collective catch of New Bedford, Gloucester, and Provincetown-Chatham, all of which principally fish Georges Bank, is worth nearly $350 million annually.
Congressman Markey introduced a House version yesterday that also aims to make the ban permanent. That bill is cosponsored by Representatives Delahunt, Frank, McGovern, Tierney, Tsongas, and Capuano.