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Pallone, Environmental & Business Leaders Speak Out Against Trump’s Plans for Offshore Drilling in the Atlantic

March 22, 2019
Press Release

Long Branch, NJ – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) and New Jersey environmental and business community leaders met at the Asbury Park boardwalk to denounce the Trump Administration’s efforts to expand offshore oil and gas drilling and seismic testing to the Atlantic Ocean. In the coming weeks, the Trump Administration is likely to release a new plan for the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program) for 2019-2024 that will allow drilling and hazardous potential oil spills along the Jersey Shore.

Recently the Trump administration approved five Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) permits for companies planning to conduct seismic geological and geophysical surveys along the Atlantic coast. Seismic testing poses a direct threat to important marine life populations and opens the door for the expansion of offshore drilling in the Atlantic and along New Jersey’s coast.

Pallone and the advocates also denounced the Trump administration’s recent move to grant 1,700 waivers to offshore drilling safety rules. The most common waivers were those that allowed the companies to sidestep tighter rules for blowout preventers. This was the device that failed to seal off BP's well after it erupted in 2010, killing 10 workers and spewing more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over five months.

In January, Pallone introduced the Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism (COAST) Anti-Drilling Act that would ban offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, Straits of Florida, and the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. In the coming weeks, he will also introduce legislation that will halt any new Trump initiative to drill offshore in the Atlantic. This would force the Secretary of the Interior to stick to the current 2017-2022 plan, which prevents offshore drilling in the Atlantic. In December of 2016, Pallone helped successfully convince President Obama to permanently ban oil and gas exploration in the current 5-year plan.

“I am so proud to see New Jerseyans stand together to preempt against yet another Trump attack on our state, environment and oceans on World Water Day,” said Pallone. “An oil spill anywhere along the Atlantic Coast would cause severe environmental damage to fisheries, popular beaches and wildlife. The Trump administration is likely to reopen up our waters to drilling and is already removing safety requirements that would help prevent another spill like BP. I will work with members of the New Jersey delegation to prevent the Trump Administration from wreaking havoc on our coastal communities and economy.”

Representatives from the following organizations joined Pallone is opposition to offshore drilling in the Atlantic, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Clean Ocean Action, New Jersey Sierra Club, New Jersey Sustainable Business Council, American Littoral Society, Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce, Jersey Coast Anglers Association, Clean Water Action, NY/NJ Baykeeper, Environment New Jersey, and Surfrider Foundation.                                                                                                              

The Jersey Shore is home to over $700 billion in coastal properties and a tourism industry that generates $38 billion a year supporting almost half a million direct and indirect jobs, or nearly ten percent of the state’s entire workforce.  New Jersey’s vibrant commercial fishing industry generates over $7.9 billion annually and supports over 50,000 jobs.  The state has one of the largest saltwater recreational fishing industries in the nation.  All of these are threatened by offshore drilling.

The economic and environmental devastation of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy far exceeded what many believed would be the worst-case scenario for an offshore oil accident.  More than seven years later, the Gulf Coast still hasn’t fully recovered from its catastrophic impact.