Press Room

Offshore Drilling is Banned in New York State's Waters

The Save Our Waters bill has been signed into law by Governor Cuomo, protecting New York's coasts for birds and people.

American Oystercatchers. Photo: Jesse Gordon/Audubon Photography Awards

Today, Governor Cuomo signed the Save Our Waters bill to ban offshore drilling in New York State.

Exploration and drilling for oil or gas would have serious repercussions for New York State’s marine and coastal ecosystems as well as its surrounding communities and overall economy. 

New York State’s coasts provide critically important habitat for our threatened and declining shorebirds, including threatened species such as the Piping Plover, Roseate Tern, and Red Knot, which frequent the shores and waters of Long Island. Oil spills would endanger the steady comeback these species have been making, and add to the long list of threats that they already face.

The Governor's action to protect New York's waters from oil and gas exploration was prompted by the White House's plan to vastly expand offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. 

In January 2018 when the federal governments plan was announced – which would make more than 90 percent of the total offshore acreage in the United States available to oil and gas drilling – Audubon New York called on its network to take action. 

Nearly 1,500 Audubon members wrote to their legislators urging them to protect our coasts, and they listened! 

"The Department of the Interior’s proposal to auction off our nation’s public waters for expanded drilling is wrong for New York State. Our coasts, bays, and marine waters provide critical habitat for birds and support the livelihoods of close to one million New Yorkers. We are proud to stand with New York State and oppose drilling for oil and gas in the North Atlantic Planning Area,” said Ana Paula Tavares, executive director of Audubon New York.

Audubon has witnessed firsthand the long-term impacts of oil spills: BP’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster polluted shorelines from Texas to Florida – killing more than one million birds, harming fisheries, and impairing countless ocean and estuary habitats. An equivalent disaster in the Atlantic Ocean would coat beaches and estuaries, with a particularly devastating effect on New York State’s 117.5 miles of coastline. 

Audubon New York thanks Governor Andrew Cuomo, Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Carl Heastie, Senator Todd Kaminsky, Assemblymember Steve Englebright, and the entire New York State Legislature for ensuring the speedy passage and enactment of the Save Our Waters bill.

Erin McGrath, Audubon New York policy manager, joined South Shore Audubon Society, New York City Audubon, and other partners in conservation to witness Governor Cuomo sign the Save Our Waters bill into law.