Regional leaders plan to speak out against offshore drilling

FILE- This May 16, 2015, file photo shows oil drillings offshore of a service pier in the Santa Barbara Channel off the coast of Southern California near Carpinteria. Opposition to the Trump administration’s plan to expand offshore drilling mounted Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. The plan could open up federal waters off the California coast for the first time in more than three decades. The Channel is one of those areas that could open up. (AP Photo/John Antczak, File)

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Seventeen city and county leaders plan to work together and voice opposition to offshore drilling in Hampton Roads.

The leaders of the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission will meet in Chesapeake Thursday afternoon to discuss ways to push back on oil and gas exploration off Virginia’s coast.

Related: Herring joins 11 state attorneys general in opposing offshore drilling

It comes after the Trump Administration announced a plan to lift the ban on drilling in the water off several states, including Virginia and North Carolina. For decades, drilling in this area has been blocked.

The Trump Administration’s five-year plan could open new areas of oil and gas exploration on the East Coast.

Related: Kaine, Taylor oppose offshore drilling, but Wittman supports it

State officials and some members of Congress have already come out against the proposal. City councils in Norfolk and Virginia Beach have also voted in opposition.

Gov. Ralph Northam and Democratic Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner say they are against any drilling. They say it poses a risk to the environment, military and tourism.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has scheduled a public hearing to talk about the issue. It will be Wednesday, Feb. 21 at Four Points by Sheraton, Richmond Airport, 4700 S. Laburnum Ave. in Richmond. It goes from for 3-7 p.m.