300+ East Coast businesses send letter to Obama opposing Atlantic drilling

Amid growing opposition to offshore drilling in the Atlantic, Oceana and the Natural Resources Defense Council took the anti-drilling message to Labor Day holiday beachgoers via plane. The banner says, "PRES. OBAMA: KEEP OIL OFF THIS BEACH #STOPTHEDRILL." Click on the image for a larger version. (Photo by Zak Billmeier used with permission.)

More than 300 businesses along the East Coast sent a letter to President Obama this week urging his administration to drop the Atlantic from the proposed plan for offshore oil and gas drilling through 2022.

"Offshore drilling is incompatible with our tourism and fishing industries," the letter states. "When you drill, you spill, and day to day drilling operations result in chronic pollution and the industrialization of the coast for oil facilities."

The more than 300 signatories include representatives of businesses in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Virginia. The businesses include everything from boat rentals to restaurants, dentists to technology companies.

The state with the most signatories — over 130 — is North Carolina, where Gov. Pat McCrory (R) is leading the push to drill as chair of the Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition, a pro-drilling group run by oil and gas industry lobbyists.

"We are the beach," signatory Cola Vaughan of Cola Vaughan Realty in Nag’s Head, North Carolina said during a press call to announce the letter. Pointing out how the health of the local economy is directly tied to the health of the coast, Vaughan criticized the Atlantic drilling plan as "a reckless gamble."

To date, nearly 600 national, state and local elected officials have taken a public stance against offshore oil exploration and/or development, and more than 75 coastal towns, cities and counties have passed resolutions opposing or voicing concern with the process.

The latest local governments to take a formal stance against Atlantic drilling are in the North Carolina communities of Oak Island, Holden Beach and Orange County, which all passed anti-drilling resolutions this month.

Meanwhile, over the Labor Day weekend, Oceana and the Natural Resources Defense Council took to the sky with an aerial protest: They had airplanes towing banners fly over beaches from Virginia to South Carolina calling on President Obama to "KEEP OIL OFF THIS BEACH."