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Menendez, Booker, Pallone Applaud Major Step to Protect Jersey Shore from Offshore Drilling

December 20, 2016
Press Release

President heeds call, issues partial Atlantic drilling ban

NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, and Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (N.J.-06) today applauded President Obama for heeding their call to take steps to further protect the Jersey Shore from offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean.  President Obama exercised his authority to permanently ban offshore drilling in deep water canyons from Virginia to New England, including off the New Jersey coast, and in much of the Arctic Ocean.

“The families and businesses who depend on a thriving Jersey Shore and clean Atlantic Ocean took an important step forward with the President’s decision to permanently ban drilling in parts of the Atlantic. Today, we celebrate a milestone in our fight to protect the Jersey Shore, but acknowledge that our work is not yet done,” said Sen. Menendez.  “In my first month as a United States senator in 2006, I introduced legislation to permanently ban drilling in the Atlantic.  Over the last ten years, I’ve been proud to stand with New Jerseyans time and again as we stood up to Big Oil—against all political odds.  I will never stop fighting until we fully protect our shores and secure an economic and environmental legacy for generations to come.” 

“New Jerseyans stood united in calling for the protection of the Atlantic Ocean and this announcement marks an important step in that fight,” said Sen. Booker.  “I applaud President Obama for answering calls to permanently protect vulnerable waters in the Atlantic and the Arctic oceans from the potential devastating effects of a catastrophic oil spill.  We must now stand ready to fight any efforts by the incoming administration to undermine these historic protections for our environment, our economy and our coastal communities.”

“I applaud President Obama for taking an important step to protect the Jersey Shore and the coastal communities that rely on it by withdrawing 5,990 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean from future drilling,” said Pallone.  “Oil spills don’t respect state borders.  The fact remains that opening up the Atlantic Ocean for fossil fuel development is unnecessary, poses a serious threat to our coastal communities, and is the wrong approach.  I remain convinced that the only way to ensure that New Jersey is not the victim of a devastating oil spill is to place a permanent ban on offshore drilling anywhere in the Atlantic.  An oil spill along the Atlantic Coast would cause severe environmental damage to fisheries, beaches and wildlife. President-elect Trump’s appointments to the EPA and the Department of Energy clearly show that his administration will pursue shortsighted and reckless policies for our environment and I will fight any effort by his administration to open up drilling in the Atlantic.”

Last month, Sens. Menendez and Booker and Rep. Pallone stood on the Long Branch boardwalk with environmental advocates to call upon President Obama to exercise the authority granted to him by Congress under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) to protect the Jersey Shore by permanently banning offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean before he leaves office. 

Sens. Menendez and Booker joined 12 other Senate colleagues in a letter to President Obama urging him to permanently protect the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans from oil and gas drilling.

Sen. Menendez and Rep. Pallone are the authors of the Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism (COAST) Anti-Drilling Act, a bill cosponsored by Sen. Booker to permanently ban exploration, development, or production of oil or gas in the North, Mid-, or South Atlantic Ocean.

In March, the Obama Administration removed the Atlantic Ocean from the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program (Five Year Program) for 2017-2022 after Sens. Menendez and Booker and Rep. Pallone helped lead a coalition of elected officials, shore communities, fishermen, small businesses and environmental advocates up and down the eastern seaboard in sending a clear message to the oil industry that our shores are not for sale.  The federal lawmakers led a Jersey Shore rally in January to #KillTheDrill.

Following the election of Donald Trump, who ran on an anti-environment campaign and is filling his cabinet with oil executives and climate deniers, Sen. Menendez stepped up the pressure for a permanent offshore drilling ban in a Senate floor speech and op-ed in the Newark Star-Ledger, making the case for immediate action by President Obama before the sun sets on his administration.