A week after President Obama said in his State of the Union address that the U.S. must accelerate the transition away from dirty energy, more than 200 business leaders from 19 states sent a letter to Congress urging the federal government to protect the Atlantic and Arctic coasts from the threat offshore oil drilling poses to our economy.

The letter, organized by the national, nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), comes as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management develops its five-year offshore drilling plan and as the U.S. Senate considers adding pro-drilling amendments to major energy legislation.

"As President Obama said in his State of the Union address, we must accelerate the transition away from dirty energy," said E2 executive director Bob Keefe. "Well, expanding offshore drilling does the exact opposite - at great harm to our economy and our environment."

The business leaders' opposition arrives amidst a growing chorus of strong local opposition to offshore drilling from coastal communities throughout the Southeast. Much of this grassroots opposition is based on economic concerns, and the letter highlights the risks that oil spills pose to local businesses and industries.

Specifically, the letter notes that in 2010 the BP Deepwater Horizon spill cost the Gulf Coast tourism industry nearly $23 billion in lost revenue.

If Atlantic offshore drilling is allowed, the $40 billion generated annually from tourism, recreation and fishing along the South and Mid-Atlantic coasts would be similarly threatened.

Instead, the E2 letter notes, we can protect our fragile coastline and still get plenty of home-grown energy - clean, renewable energy from offshore windfarms.

"Business leaders know we shouldn't destroy the economic benefits that come with a beautiful coastline and bountiful tourism industry with the economic calamities that can come with offshore drilling," Keefe said. "Hopefully, Congress and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will listen and permanently protect our Arctic and Atlantic coasts."

The complete letter is available here. And please see these additional resources:

• A profile of a maritime business that sees a huge growth opportunity in ferrying workers to offshore wind farm construction sites.
• A story that highlights local business support for the first offshore wind farm in the U.S., which is currently under construction in Rhode Island.
• This Oceana report found that within the next two decades, offshore wind could create 91,000 more jobs than offshore drilling.
• This Op-Ed from a coastal North Carolina businessman highlights economic arguments against drilling.
• E2's latest clean energy jobs report.


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