NJ Lawmakers Say Offshore Drilling could have Negative Impact on Crucial New Jersey Shore Economy

njAssembly Democrats Vince Mazzeo, Tim Eustace and Bob Andrzejczak have introduced legislation opposing a proposal to open portions of Atlantic Coast for oil and natural gas drilling.

“Offshore drilling threatens the economy and the environment of New Jersey and other coastal states,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “Consider that New Jersey’s 127-mile coast supports a tourism industry worth more than $36 billion, or 7 percent of the state’s entire economy, and generates recreational and commercial fishing revenues of $2 billion annually. A major oil spill on the East Coast could easily destroy the state’s coastal resources, cause catastrophic and lasting economic harm and significantly reduce the quality of life for New Jersey residents. A spill could also threaten the many endangered and threatened species that call the Jersey Shore home. I see no benefit to New Jersey from offshore drilling in the Atlantic – none whatsoever.”

The bill (ACR-227) notes that on Jan. 27, the Obama Administration proposed opening up portions of the Atlantic Coast – 50 miles offshore from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia – for offshore oil and natural gas drilling.

The sponsors noted New Jersey’s southern coast is just 100 nautical miles from the proposed drilling area.

“With oil and natural gas reserves at an all-time high, and gasoline usage projected to drop significantly over the next few decades due to more energy-efficient automobiles, offshore drilling on the East Coast is not necessary and the risks far outweigh the rewards,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Opening up portions of the Atlantic Ocean for offshore drilling would put at risk beaches, fisheries, and marine life all along the coast, and threaten ocean-based economies, such as New Jersey’s, that rely on them. The nation should be focusing its energy policy on expanding renewable energy production, rather than jeopardizing coastal economies and the environment with the extraction of more fossil fuels.”

“The administration should take into account lessons from disasters such as the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and take steps to protect people and the environment from the hazards associated with offshore drilling,” said Andrzejczak (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland). “New Jersey’s beaches, boardwalks, resorts, and shore towns sustain over half a million jobs, or one in 10 jobs in the state, and generate $10 billion in government revenues. If oil drilling is not safe in certain parts of Alaska, where the Obama Administration has proposed banning oil and natural gas drilling outright, then it’s not safe for the Atlantic Coast.”

The resolution would be transmitted by the Clerk of the General Assembly to the President of the United States, the Secretary of the United States Department of the Interior, the Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in the United States Department of the Interior, every member of Congress from the State of New Jersey and the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

The measure has been referred to Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.

[TLS]

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