Friday is the last day for public comment on the Trump administration’s proposal to open up New England waters to offshore oil and gas drilling.
In January, the U.S. Interior Department released a draft proposal for the 2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, which would expand offshore drilling to more than 90 percent of all coastal waters in the country.
Currently, the vast majority of those water are off limits.
The draft includes 47 potential lease sales to oil and gas companies, two of which are proposed for the North Atlantic. There hasn’t been any oil or gas exploration in the North Atlantic since the 1983.
Since the proposal announcement, hundreds of Rhode Islanders have protested the plan, saying the federal government should turn to renewable energy resources, not fossil fuels.
State officials, including Governor Gina Raimondo and Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, have spoken out in opposition, pointing to potential oil spills they say could devastate Rhode Island’s coastal economy.
A national environmental coalition that includes local groups has collected more than 900,000 comments against the proposal through their own petition-gathering programs that will be submitted to federal regulators by tonight's deadline.
Economists have said offshore drilling could provide good-paying jobs for people from a variety of different educational backgrounds.
A tally of comments in support of offshore drilling is not yet available, according to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
Public comments can be submitted online until 11:59 p.m.