To the editor: Congressman Andy Harris recently took a stand on behalf of his constituents against expanded offshore drilling.

Marylanders have made it clear, and he listened: Our coastal economy is incompatible with offshore oil drilling activities. Our fishermen, coastal business owners and Realtors depend on a clean Chesapeake Bay and healthy Atlantic coastline for their livelihoods.

It’s plain and simple — our way of life in Ocean City is dependent on an oil-free coast and I’m thankful Congressman Harris is working to keep it that way.

As the CEO of the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, I know that economic decisions made in Washington must be grounded in an honest understanding of local industries that support our coastal economy back home.

According to Oceana, Maryland’s clean and healthy coast supports 96,000 jobs and $6 billion in GDP — an economic driver that can’t be ignored. Congressman Harris showed his support for Maryland’s clean coast economy by voting in support of amendments that would block expanded offshore drilling activities for one year, an important step in the fight to protect our coast.

The administration’s plan to expand offshore drilling to Maryland’s shores flies in the face of opposition from leaders across the political spectrum. In a hyper-partisan climate where it’s easy to find division, this issue unifies us. House votes to block funding for expanded offshore drilling passed with flying colors. Back home, our state leaders are on the same page, with Gov. Larry Hogan and Attorney General Brian Frosh both saying no to this dirty and dangerous venture.

As we continue to fight the good fight at every level of government, let’s remember — oil spills do not respect state boundaries. An oil spill anywhere off the Atlantic coast could imperil Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay. A catastrophe like the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster could spoil the mouth of the Bay and pollute critical spawning grounds for the blue crab, the most valuable fishery in the region. Marylanders cannot afford this risk. That’s why we will continue to urge our representatives to do everything they can to protect our coast.

Congressman Harris should be applauded for his efforts to protect our coast from offshore drilling and seismic airgun blasting. Opening Maryland's coast to this dirty and dangerous industry would be a forever decision.

We have the political will; it’s time that we say “no” to offshore drilling for good.

Melanie Pursel

Ocean City

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