There is a story in the Portsmouth Herald in which Paul Hodes called on the Republican candidates for senate to join him in calling for a commitment to support the ban on drilling for oil off the New Hampshire coast.
Kelly Ayotte, the leading candidate in the Republican field at this point, said, unbelievabley,
While agreeing that BP should be held fully accountable, Ayotte blasted Hodes for his failure “to substantively address our need for a comprehensive national energy plan.”
“To score political points he wants to take options off the table that will make us even more dependent on countries that wish us harm, and that’s a huge mistake,” Ayotte said.
No, it is not a huge mistake to take drilling off the New England coast off the table. The huge mistake would be putting the Great Bay, the Isles of Shoals, and the rest of the New England coast at risk.
And it is not scoring political points to talk about the need to be responsible stewards of our environment – which is not just the right thing to do morally, but also the right thing to do economically, given the region’s reliance on the tourist industry.
As Congressman Hodes said, about the idea of an oil leak or spill here in New Hampshire’s Great Bay:
“It’s unimaginable,” he said.
The Great Bay Estuary is one of New Hampshire’s greatest natural treasures and must be protected from the risks of offshore drilling,” Hodes said. “As a United State senator, I will never vote to lift the ban on drilling off New England’s coast – period.”
If you want regional evidence of what oil can do, look at what happened in Buzzards Bay, on the South Coast of Massachusetts, where in 2003 a barge heading toward the Cape Cod Canal spilled 98,000 gallons of oil into the Bay, affecting 90 miles of shoreline. In a recent verdict in a class action law suit by some homeowners whose property was affected, the jury found a couple of properties were still polluted until 2007 and 2009. About 180,000 acres of shellfish beds were temporarily shut down. This was from a one time spill by a barge that went out of the shipping lane and hit a ledge – not a weeks/months long oil leak.
New Hampshire has a historical commitment to protecting the environment, and huge efforts have been made to protect the Great Bay, the Isles of Shoals, and the rest of our coast. See, e.g., Ari Onassis, Mel Thompson, and their plans, and thanks again to Dudley Dudley and others who put a stop to all that nonsense.
The idea that any person running for office in New Hampshire does not understand the need to protect not just our coast, but the New England coast and every coast line, boggles the mind. It is, to quote Congressman Hodes, unimaginable.