U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-NJ) and Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ-06) today sent a letter to President Obama urging his administration to keep the Atlantic Coast off limits for oil and gas exploration, stressing that the environmental and economic consequences of an oil spill near the Jersey Shore would be catastrophic.
“As we learned all too clearly in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, offshore drilling poses a substantial risk of economic and environmental devastation for our shoreline communities,” the Senators and Congressman wrote.
“Even today, more than four years after the BP oil spill, 60 percent of the 210 million gallons that spilled are unaccounted for, and oil-soaked sand and tar balls continue to wash up on the beaches of the Gulf.”
The strength of New Jersey’s economy and workforce depends strongly on having a thriving Jersey Shore, which continues to rebound from devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy. In 2011, the federal lawmakers noted that New Jersey’s tourism industry generated $38 billion, $4.4 billion in state and local taxes and $4.8 billion in federal taxes. The industry directly supports 312,000 jobs in New Jersey and 486,000 jobs including indirect and induced impacts—a total of 9.8% of the state’s workforce. The state’s commercial and recreational fishing industries, which employ tens of thousands, would be decimated in the event of a spill.
The Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management (BOEM) announced last month the first steps in the development of the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program, calling for a Request for Information and a 45-day public comment period.
“As we get ready for the July 4th weekend with everyone headed to our beaches, BOEM is looking to develop their next plan, which could include drilling off our coast and the mid-Atlantic,” said N.J. Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel.
“The last thing New Jersey needs after Hurricane Sandy recovery is an oil spill. The only oil we want on our beaches is suntan oil. Instead BOEM should be coming out with leases for windmills off our coast. The fossil fools in Washington keep trying to target our coast for big oil and gas companies. We cannot trust Big Oil with our energy future. We cannot drill ourselves into energy independence.”
As thousands descend on the Jersey Shore for the July 4th holiday weekend, Menendez and Pallone were joined at a news conference on the Asbury Park boardwalk by Mayor Myra Campbell, Tittel and local business owners at a news conference on the Asbury Park boardwalk.
“The Jersey Shore is a priceless natural treasure, providing recreation to generations of families and supporting a thriving ecosystem of marine mammals and sea life,” wrote Menendez, Booker and Pallone.
“We owe it to future generations to ensure that our pristine natural resources are preserved and protected from the polluting fossil fuel industry.”