Oct. 15–President Donald Trump’s administration wants to allow new offshore oil and gas drilling in almost all U.S. coastal waters, including most of the East Coast and the Arctic.
New York is among at least 10 states whose governors oppose the plan because of concerns about the environment, tourism and the fishing industry.
The Trump administration also wants to shrink the amount of public land protected as national monuments, ordering a review of 27 sites that gained protection over the past two decades.
The amount of land preserved at two national monuments in Utah — Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante — was cut by 1.9 million acres, the largest reduction of protected public land in U.S. history.
With that in mind, we asked the candidates in the 24th Congressional District election — U.S. Rep. John Katko, R-Camillus, and Democrat Dana Balter of Syracuse — the following question:
President Trump’s administration has proposed opening nearly all coastal waters in the United States to new offshore oil and gas drilling. The president also moved to reduce the amount of protected land at national monument sites.
What, if any, action should Congress take to help protect and manage public lands and resources?
The candidates’ written answers are below. Katko and Balter were asked to limit their responses to 250 words.
Look for a new candidate question each week. Have something you’d like to ask all the candidates? Email Mark Weiner at email@example.com with the subject line “weekly question.”
In Central New York, we grew up witnessing the irrevocable damage to Onondaga Lake, and the generation of cleanup it has required. That’s why I have always advocated for policies that preserve and protect our nation’s waters and lands for future generations.
I am a staunch supporter of our public lands, national monuments, and national parks.
I have led efforts to uphold and defend the Antiquities Act, a federal statute that protects public lands and historical sites as national monuments. I opposed legislation and actions from the administration aiming to roll back the Antiquities Act and other protections for public lands.
I have been a fierce advocate for growing our national park system. Just this month, the president signed into law legislation I introduced to put Fort Ontario and Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Center in Oswego on the path towards becoming a national park. Since I came to Congress, I have worked closely with the Department of Interior and local advocates to aid the transition of the Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn to national historic park status.
Reliance on foreign oil puts our national security at risk and I support the administration’s vision to make the United States energy independent. However, we cannot threaten coastal communities to do so. We must balance environmental concerns with the security of our nation. I support limited offshore drilling in the Arctic, and joined a number of my colleagues urging Interior Secretary Zinke to oppose offshore oil and gas leasing off the East Coast.
It’s vital that we protect our natural resources, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and secure our energy independence. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report containing dire warnings about the future of our planet should we fail to act. So instead of expanding drilling offshore, we should invest in renewable energy that will allow us to be energy independent and address the problem of carbon pollution.
In Congress, I will work to pass legislation that provides permanent protection for our coastal waters. It’s critical that we prevent offshore drilling, which reduces property values and could result in costly damages to coastal residents and industries — like fisheries — that rely on clean waters.
I will work to pass legislation that expands protections for our federal parks and lands, including closing all federal parks and wildlife refuges to oil and gas exploration. Not only are our public parks spectacular natural monuments, they are a vital resource to our economy. Just last year, the Park Service reported $38 billion in yearly economic benefit from national parks, supporting over 300,000 jobs.
I will also work to protect and expand funding for conservation programs. Our federal budget reflects our priorities as a country and I will work to ensure that safeguarding our natural resources remains a clear priority.
Contact Mark Weiner: Email — Twitter — Facebook — 571-970-3751
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