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McEachin introduces bills regarding offshore drilling

By A. Donald McEachin

This past month has been a busy one for our country. The pandemic, unfortunately, continues to spread, amid new worries of a more contagious, potentially more virulent virus.

I would remind everyone to follow public health measures — wear masks, medical grade or multi-layered ones, practice social distancing and try to avoid close encounters with those not in your household.

President Biden and his administration have made a commitment to 100 million vaccines in 100 days and, hopefully, that will help us begin to turn the corner. We are all frustrated with the halting roll-out of the vaccine, with vaccination sites running out and having to cancel appointments. Hopefully, in the next few weeks, more vaccines will be approved, allowing more companies to manufacture the precious vaccine. Moreover, President Biden has said he will use the Defense Production Act to help produce vials, syringes, personal protective equipment and other necessities to conquer this pandemic.

In Congress, I will continue to strive to get additional relief to my constituents — financial help for those with job loss, protection from eviction, aid for student loans and help with educating our children. Even as we see light at the end of the tunnel, with the concerted effort and promise to get vaccines into arms, Virginians continue to need significant assistance to endure this ongoing scourge.

As always, if you have an issue with a federal agency, a missing passport, lost benefits, an immigration concern, or any other federal issue, please do not hesitate to contact my office. We’re here to help you navigate those concerns and, hopefully, get a positive outcome. Please go to my website, mceachin.house.gov, to get started.

With the virus so widespread in Virginia and the governor’s state of emergency in effect, I know that in-person events are few. However, I still appreciate opportunities to hear from and interact with constituents. So if you know of an event and would like me or a staffer to attend or speak, my website has a scheduling request form at mceachin.house.gov. We’ll check our calendar and get back to you. Hearing from constituents and getting to chat with them is very important to me.

With a new administration and a new Congress, we’re doing a lot of debating and voting in Washington. We’re revisiting past issues such as COVID relief and tackling new ones such as immigration. I really want to and need to hear from you. As you read and hear about pending bills, let me know your thoughts. You can call my Washington, D.C., office at 202-225-6365, or you can leave your opinion on my website at mceachin.house.gov.

As I mentioned, Congress is very busy and I have introduced and signed on to a raft of legislation just this month in the new Congress. I want to highlight two of my bills that will have a significant impact right here in our district and for our country.

The Offshore Accountability Act would mandate that offshore drilling operators report critical safety system failures directly to the Secretary of the Interior, who would then be required to report them to the public. The Defend Our Coasts Act prohibits offshore drilling along the Mid-Atlantic by prohibiting the Department of the Interior from issuing leases for exploration, drilling, or production of oil and gas along the coasts of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.

I am re-introducing both of these bills from 2019 because offshore drilling is dangerous to our communities, workers, and marine flora and fauna. Moreover, drilling for fossil fuels is detrimental to addressing climate change, which necessitates that we use renewable fuels to save our earth for posterity. It only takes one accident to cost lives and employment while harming marine plant and animal life and desecrating coastal communities.

The Offshore Accountability Act will ensure if there is drilling, coastal communities will be informed of accidents and incidents that could impact them. Secrecy only benefits the corporations at the expense of people.

Congressman Donald McEachin represents Virginia’s 4th Congressional District.