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No oil drilling off the Jersey Shore, House says in rebuke to Trump

September 13, 2019
In The News

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House sought to block President Donald Trump’s efforts to allow oil rigs off the Jersey Shore by voting Wednesday to prevent new leases for oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean.

The measure, which passed 238-189, also would prohibit leases in the Pacific. A second piece of legislation approved by the House would keep the rigs away from Florida’s Gulf Coast.

“You cannot possibly compare the economic loss we would have from a major oil spill to whatever gain you have from this relatively small amount of oil that is going to be captured by these oil companies in offshore drilling,” Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-6th Dist., the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said during debate on the House floor.

The vote was largely along party lines, with most Republicans arguing for more oil and gas drilling to create jobs and produce more American energy. Only 12 GOP lawmakers supported the ban, including Rep. Chris Smith, R-4th Dist.

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.

This not the first time the House stood up to Trump on the issue of drilling for oil in the Atlantic. Lawmakers in June added a provision banning offshore drilling in the Atlantic to the spending bill for the Interior Department.

Trump, who pledged to expand the use of coal and oil and called climate change "a Chinese hoax,” proposed in January 2018 to open up to drilling 90 percent of the outer continental shelf, which encompasses the most of the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans.

That would reverse President Barack Obama’s decision to keep the Atlantic coast off limits through at least 2022. A federal judge in April overturned Trump’s efforts to reverse the existing ban on Atlantic drilling.

Trump threatened to veto the legislation.

“Prohibiting energy development in new Federal areas would hinder future administrations’ efforts to make up for revenue lost as production declines from leases in aging energy fields,” the White House Office of Management and Budget said in a statement. “Such restrictions will tie the hands of future administrations and reduce their ability to enhance energy security through strong domestic energy production and to ensure affordable energy for American families.”