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Pallone Reintroduces COAST Anti-Drilling Act in Response to Trump’s Reckless Actions to Expand Offshore Drilling

January 8, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ-06) announced that he would reintroduce 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 2017, President Trump signed an executive order aimed toward allowing offshore oil and gas drilling along the East Coast. Recently the administration also 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.

“President Trump’s dangerous plans for offshore drilling will risk the livelihoods of millions on the Atlantic Coast and in New Jersey,” said Pallone. “An oil spill anywhere along the Atlantic Coast would cause severe environmental damage to fisheries, popular beaches and wildlife. I will work with members of the New Jersey delegation and colleagues in Congress to pass the COAST Anti-Drilling Act and prevent the Trump Administration from wreaking havoc on New Jersey’s coastal communities.”

All Members of the New Jersey Congressional delegation have joined Pallone’s effort to stop offshore drilling by signing onto the COAST Act as original cosponsors. U.S. Senator Robert Menendez has introduced the COAST Act in previous Congresses and has been a leader in fighting against drilling in the Atlantic.

“As climate change continues to threaten our shore communities, the last thing we need is another man-made disaster in the form of an offshore oil spill,” said Sen. Menendez. “The COAST Anti-Drilling Act draws a line in the sand—a line that we must never let Big Oil cross—by permanently banning drilling throughout the Atlantic. The Jersey Shore is a birthright for every New Jerseyan and I’ll continue to protect our coastal communities, tourism industry, and marine ecosystems.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to reintroduce a companion bill in the coming weeks.”

The COAST Anti-Drilling Act prohibits the U.S. Department of Interior from issuing leases for the exploration, development, or production of oil or gas in the North, Mid-, or South Atlantic Ocean or the Straits of Florida, or the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. 

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. 

“The best way to stop the insanity of offshore oil and gas drilling is to make it illegal,” said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action. “We applaud Chairman Pallone for his continued leadership on this issue and look forward to his new role as chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee where he can hold federal officials accountable for their reckless actions,” said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action.

"We applaud Congressman Pallone for standing up to protect New Jersey’s economy and environment against President Trump’s anti-environmental and pro-polluter agenda,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director of New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “The Jersey Shore tourism industry is a $44 billion economic engine and supports more than 838,000 jobs, including vibrant commercial and recreational fishing industries. The COAST Anti-Drilling Act would protect not only New Jerseyans, but all of the East Coast from dangerous offshore fossil fuel extraction.”

“It is critical for Congress to stand up to Donald Trump and block his reckless plan to drill off our coast. We need this legislation more than ever, this is the biggest risk to our coast in over 40 years. Offshore drilling would jeopardize our $38 billion coastal economy and fishing industry. The possibility of an oil spill or leak would threaten New Jersey’s entire coastal economy and our public safety. The only way to stop that Fossil Fool in the White House is to get Congress to ban drilling off the Atlantic,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Congressman Pallone has been a champion to our coast. We thank him for his efforts to protect it and now we need him more than ever to block Donald Trump from drilling off our coast.”

In May of 2017, Pallone lead a bipartisan group of members from the New Jersey Congressional delegation in a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke opposing President Trump's plans for offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean. The signers urged Zinke to consider the severe economic and environmental impacts oil and gas development in the Atlantic would have on New Jersey.

In June 2017, Pallone led a bipartisan letter from the entire New Jersey Congressional delegation to the National Marine Fisheries Service voicing concerns over a proposal to issue seismic testing permits for the Atlantic Ocean.

In December of 2016, Pallone helped successfully convince President Obama to permanently ban oil and gas exploration in areas of the Atlantic Ocean by exercising the authority granted to him by Congress under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA).                                                                                                         

President Trump’s actions seek to roll back those protections and reopen the Five-Year Plan to expand offshore drilling.