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PNS Daily Newscast - October 17, 2017 


On the rundown; a new poll has Americans turning thumbs down on Trump’s hurricane response; changes in the works to North Carolina’s election law; a move to protect Central California wilderness; and making federal buildings “bird friendly”

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Protest Against Offshore Drilling in Virginia Beach

Organizers say a Virginia Beach protest against offshore drilling represents the will of the people and businesses of that community. (Chris Bergand/Andrew Tuchman/Oceana)
Organizers say a Virginia Beach protest against offshore drilling represents the will of the people and businesses of that community. (Chris Bergand/Andrew Tuchman/Oceana)
May 22, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. -- More than 150 people took to the sand in Virginia Beach on Saturday to protest plans to expand offshore drilling.

The Trump administration has indicated it wants to roll back Obama-era moves to make large portions of the Atlantic off limits to oil and gas exploration. Jeff Staples, an organizer with the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club, said the military and conservation groups are joining coastal businesses in opposing the potential change.

"The Virginia Beach Hotel, motel, also the restaurant associations, they are very fearful of if there should be a Deepwater Horizon-type spill off the coast,” Staples said.

The oil and gas industry criticized the Obama protections as an unnecessary barrier to economic activity. But according to the conservation group Oceana, opposition to the drilling includes hundreds of municipalities, thousands of public officials and tens of thousands of small businesses.

Staples said fishing and seafood are significant parts of Virginia's culture and coastal way of life. He warned that offshore drilling puts that at risk - including on some especially productive parts of the coast.

"An oil slick could enter into Chesapeake Bay and maybe get into the estuaries up there, where there is a lot of life created,” he said. "So, this is the last place we need to drill and threaten our wildlife and our economy."

He noted there is a proposed wind farm not far from where the drilling projects could take place, but it isn't getting the same push-back as the prospect of offshore oil wells. And that’s for a reason.

"Building projects like these tie us to another 30, 40 years of fossil fuel dependency, and we are ready to transition over to alternative fuels,” Staples said.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner - all Democrats - have voiced their opposition to offshore drilling. Republican members of the state's congressional delegation have come out in favor of it.

More information on the protest, including a list of supporting organizations, is available at StopTheDrill.org.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - VA