House votes to block offshore drilling off Atlantic coast in rebuke of Trump
The drilling ban was included in legislation funding the Interior Department for the 12 months beginning Oct. 1. A provision preventing the agency from spending any money to allow drilling in the Atlantic was authored by New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“The coastal communities in my district depend on a healthy ecosystem to thrive," said Pallone D-6th Dist. "An oil spill would threaten the economic vitality of the Jersey Shore and communities up and down the Atlantic Coast. We need to protect our shores from the Trump Administration’s dangerous offshore drilling plans.”
The bill was passed along party lines, 227-194. Before the ban becomes law, the provision must survive a conference with the Senate and be signed into law by the president.
Trump’s Interior Department proposed a new 2019-24 five-year plan to allow drilling in more than 90 percent of the outer continental shelf, which encompasses 90 percent of the areas of the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans. The president during the campaign called man-made climate change a Chinese hoax.
Offshore drilling threatens a New Jersey tourism industry generating $43 billion annually and supporting 500,000 jobs, and a fishing industry adding $7.9 billion a year to the state’s economy and creating more than 50,000 jobs.
The spending bill also covers several other federal agencies, including Commerce, Justice, Agriculture, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs.
The Justice section includes a ban on the department spending money to enforce the federal prohibition against marijuana in any state that has legalized the drug for medical or personal use.
The Transportation section contains federal funding in several accounts to be spent on the Gateway project, which includes a new Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River and a new tunnel under the Hudson River.
“From jobs, to safety improvements, to economic development, Gateway is critical to the continued growth and success of our state, the region and our national economy," said Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-12th Dist., who sits on the Appropriations transportation subcommittee. "This appropriations package contains several potential funding sources for Gateway, and I am thrilled to see it head to the Senate.”