Op-ed and LTE Guidance

Voicing your opposition to the Trump administration’s plan to open our coasts to dangerous offshore drilling is critical to build momentum and pressure the administration to change course, as we successfully did with the Obama administration. Drafting a letter to the editor (LTE) or op-ed can be an effective way to urge your local elected officials, members of Congress, governors, and state legislators to stand up for our coasts as well.

General guidelines:

The most effective letters to the editor are written in local, hometown papers. Each of these newspapers has its own guidelines, so it’s a good idea to check your target newspaper’s website for submission requirements. As a general rule for op-eds, the ideal length is between 500 and 750 words. For LTEs, you should stick to 200 words or less, keeping the focus on a single point you want to make.

Whenever possible, it is important to tailor your op-ed or LTE to your specific audience by weaving in state-specific numbers, programs, and personal stories to make the piece your own.

Drafting your piece:

Open by stating your urgent problem:
For example:

  • As a local fisherman/business owner/restauranteur, I am concerned about the Trump administration’s plan to open our coast to offshore drilling and what it could mean for my business.
  • In January, the Trump administration announced a plan to open the Atlantic to offshore drilling.
  • Days after announcing the proposed draft plan, Interior Secretary Zinke announced Florida would be removed due to state and local opposition. Here in [LOCAL COMMUNITY], we’re also opposed to drilling off our coast.
  • The Trump administration has turned its back on coastal communities with this renewed attempt to force offshore drilling into a region that doesn’t want it.

TIP: The opening can also be a good place for a compelling story or anecdote from your work, and why you see the administration’s offshore drilling plan as a threat to your state’s coast. 

Describe what’s at stake in your state and throughout the region:
For example:

  • Offshore drilling would threaten all that is special about our coastal environment, economy, and quality of life. It is incompatible with our thriving coastal tourism economies.
  • Tourism and fishing—both commercial and recreational —are the economic backbone of hundreds of towns and cities along the Southeast coast, representing billions of dollars and thousands of jobs, including right here in [TOWN/CITY].
  • In a worst-case scenario, a single oil spill from a rig, tanker, or pipeline would devastate the healthy waters and clean beaches that are critical to our coastal economies.
  • Even without a major spill, routine spills and accidents would threaten the health of coastal communities, while drilling rigs, pipelines and other infrastructure would forever change our beautiful coastline.
  • To make matters worse, the Trump administration has also announced a proposal to roll back offshore drilling safety rules put in place following the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, making drilling more dangerous for the communities who depend on the coast and its fisheries.

Incorporate local facts and figures: 
Source: Analysis from the Center for the Blue Economy

Virginia stats:

  • The ocean economy contributes more than $8.3 billion to Virginia’s economy, supporting more than 115,000 jobs.
  • In Portsmouth alone, the ocean economy accounts for more than 30 percent of employment and injects more than $1.1 billion into the local economy.

North Carolina stats:

  • The ocean economy contributes more than $1.8 billion to North Carolina’s economy, supporting more than 41,000 jobs in the state.
  • In New Hanover County alone, the ocean economy supports more than 11,000 jobs and injects more than $355 million into the county’s economy.

South Carolina stats:

  • The ocean economy contributes nearly $3.2 billion to South Carolina’s economy, supporting more than 68,000 jobs in the state.
  • In Horry County alone, the ocean economy supports more than 24,000 jobs and injects more than $1 billion into the county’s economy.

Georgia stats:

  • The ocean economy contributes more than $1.2 billion to Georgia’s economy, supporting nearly 24,000 jobs in state.
  • In Chatham County alone, the ocean economy supports more than 12,500 jobs and contributes nearly $600 million to the county’s economy.

As necessary, include background that supports your argument:
For example:

  • When the federal government proposed in 2015 to open the coasts of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia to oil and gas development, people who live and work in our region came out strongly against drilling. The Obama administration listened.
  • The communities that would be directly impacted by drilling strongly opposed this controversial plan when it was proposed by the last administration: to date, over 140 communities have passed resolutions against offshore drilling and seismic testing.
  • Despite the intense opposition from coastal communities, the Trump administration is pushing to open up our coast to offshore drilling.

End with a call to action:
Be specific. Call on your elected officials by name and urge them to join in the bipartisan opposition to the administration’s drilling plan or take action to fight this plan.

  • It’s more important than ever to speak up and urge our elected officials to represent coastal constituents and make clear that offshore drilling is not wanted by our local communities. We need to remove the Atlantic from any future oil and gas consideration.
  • We urge the Trump administration—as we did with the Obama administration—to listen to the communities up and down the coast that stand unified against offshore drilling.
  • [INSERT LOCAL OFFICIAL] must stand with our coastal communities and speak out against the administration’s offshore drilling plan.

submitting your letter or op-ed:

Go back to the instructions for writing your letter

  • Some papers will have online forms, some will ask you to email them to an editor. Read your letter or op-ed over twice to make sure your points are clear and there are no typos. Then, follow the instructions and submit your piece.

Call the paper to follow up a day or two later if you do not see it online or in the paper

  • Call and ask for the editorial desk or whomever processes LTE and op-ed pieces.
  • Just say: “Hi my name is ______, and I submitted a letter to the editor/op-ed on my local take on the Trump administration’s proposed offshore drilling plan. I wanted to make sure you received my letter/op-ed and see if it’s something you might run. Thanks so much!”