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              Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the South Carolina Democratic parties Jefferson Jackson Dinner Friday, May 3, 2013, in Columbia, SC. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)

Biden: Offshore drilling harms ‘environmental security’

Vice President Joe Biden told recent graduates from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy that drilling for offshore oil is harming the country’s environmental security.

“You graduated in a world where our environmental security, our shorelines, our fisheries all are threatened by this country’s need to drill in deep seas and transport hundreds of billions of gallons of oil on the high seas,” Biden told graduates on Wednesday.

“You graduated in a world where the consequences of global warming offer the possibility of ice-free passage across Arctic regions that didn’t exist when you were born, presenting entirely new challenges that will demand greater international cooperation,” Biden added.

Earlier this month, Republican governors from coastal states urged the Obama administration to open more offshore areas for drilling to spur economic growth.

“We want to create jobs,” said North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory. “I urge the president to join us [and] make government a partner with us — not an adversary.”

The administration’s current offshore lease sales plan will auction territories in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska through June 2017. However, the plan does not include lease sales along mid-Atlantic states and cancels a lease sale near the coast of Virginia.

“As officers, you will operate Coast Guard icebreakers that allow ships to navigate waters that would otherwise be unpassable from the Great Lakes to the northeast to the new passages in the Arctic,” Biden continued at the ceremony. “That’s why today you are preparing for an Arctic future that includes colder, more remote, more complicated operations than routinely have ever been engaged in before by the Coast Guard.”

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