Senator Menendez, Congressman Pallone to introduce bill to ban Atlantic drilling

Yesterday, on the five-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the U.S. Senator Robert Menendez and Congressman Frank Pallone, Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced they will introduce a bill to ban offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean.

“Imagine the devastation an oil spill in the Atlantic would cause – not just to our home state of New Jersey, but to states up and down the East Coast,” said Sen. Robert Menendez.

“I am looking forward to re-introducing this Senate bill to ban Atlantic offshore drilling in an effort to not only protect the Garden State’s economy, but to guarantee a healthier and happier future for all East Coast citizens. We cannot stand by and allow our coastline and our marine life to be endangered in order to inflate Big Oil’s already inflated profits.”

“We don’t need the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster to know that offshore drilling in the Atlantic should be completely off the table,” said Congressman Frank Pallone.

“However, it does remind us of the detrimental and lasting environmental and economic damage that can be done by an oil spill, and that the technology does not exist to safely drill for oil offshore. Now, with the Administration’s dangerous proposal to permit drilling off the Atlantic Coast, we must step up our efforts to protect the Jersey Shore’s environmental and economic health.”

The Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism (COAST) Anti-Drilling Act prohibits the Department of the Interior from issuing any lease for the exploration, development, or production of oil or gas in the North, Mid-, or South Atlantic Planning Areas. There are planned introductions this week in the House by Pallone with thirteen co-sponsors and in the Senate by Menendez with seven co-sponsors.

The Obama Administration earlier this year included areas from Virginia to Georgia in its Draft 2017-2022 Five-Year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. As the Deepwater Horizon spill clearly showed, oil spills do not respect state borders, and the proposed drilling would be a direct threat to New Jersey’s coastal communities and industries, Congressman Pallone said. The Jersey Shore’s tourism industry generates $38 billion a year and directly supports almost half a million jobs – nearly ten percent of New Jersey’s entire workforce. According to Pallone, New Jersey’s commercial fishing industry alone generates over $7.9 billion annually and supports over 50,000 jobs, while the state also has one of the largest saltwater recreational fishing industries in the nation.

Congressman Pallone discussed the legislation yesterday in Long Branch, NJ at a press conference to commemorate the anniversary of the spill and to oppose the new proposal to open the Atlantic to drilling. He was joined by Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, and representatives from Clean Ocean Action and Waterspirit.

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