Pallone Highlights Potential Dangers of Proposed LNG Project Off of the New Jersey Coast

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), the Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, submitted a statement expressing his opposition to the proposed plan to build an offshore liquefied natural gas port 24 miles off the coast of Long Branch, New Jersey.  In his statement, which was submitted at a public hearing held on the issue, Pallone highlighted the potential dangers that the proposed Liberty Natural Gas (LNG) Port Ambrose terminal poses to New Jersey's ocean and coastline, which work as crucial economic engines for the state. 

“With the Jersey Shore still recovering from Superstorm Sandy, we cannot risk another blow to our coast from a liquefied natural gas spill,” said Congressman Pallone.  “This past summer, New Jersey had a strong beach season, with local residents and tourists alike showing their Jersey pride by patronizing local businesses and enjoying our replenished beaches.  Just imagine what a blow it would be to that recovery if a spill were to occur.”

Congressman Pallone, who has fought against offshore oil and gas drilling throughout his career and worked successfully to end ocean dumping, urged concerned citizens at the public hearing to continue to stand up against the industrialization of the Jersey Shore. 

“Instead of focusing on industrial uses of the ocean, our country and the State of New Jersey should be encouraging the use of renewable energy resources,” added Pallone.  “Any energy development in the Atlantic should be from renewable sources, such as wind power, and not polluting fossil fuels.” 

Tonight’s hearing was a part of the public comment period on the issue, which has been extended by 30 days, until March 16th, in order to give residents more time to voice their concerns regarding the proposed terminal.  In 2011, Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) vetoed a similar plan for an LNG terminal to be built off of the New Jersey coast.

The full text of Congressman Pallone’s statement is below:

Statement of Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr.

Port Ambrose LNG Public Hearing

January 8, 2015

I apologize I could not be there in person with all of you this evening, but I am in Washington, DC because Congress is in session this week.  I join with those of you who are here in opposition tonight to stand up against the industrialization of the Jersey Shore.

Liberty Natural Gas is back with the same old plan to put an industrial gas terminal off our coast – a plan that is strikingly similar to the one vetoed by Governor Christie in 2011.  I am opposed to the proposed Liberty Natural Gas offshore liquefied natural gas project planned for 24 miles off the coast of Long Branch. 

I’m pleased that the public comment period has been extended by 30 days, to March 16.  During that time, I encourage everyone to have their voice heard on this project.

Throughout my tenure as an elected official, I have opposed industrial uses of the ocean.  I have fought against offshore oil and gas drilling, as well as worked successfully to end ocean dumping.  Instead of focusing on industrial uses of the ocean, our country and the State of New Jersey should be encouraging the use of renewable energy resources. 

Any energy development in the Atlantic should be from renewable sources, such as wind power, and not polluting fossil fuels.  The Obama Administration is prioritizing offshore wind energy development in areas off the Atlantic coast, including New Jersey. 

Wind power is exactly the type of clean energy America should be investing in—the type that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and gas and create jobs.  This project may create an unknown number of temporary jobs during the construction phase, but we must also think of the jobs that would be lost if a LNG spill occurred off our coast. 

The Jersey Shore is the primary driver of a tourism economy that sustains nearly 500,000 jobs and generates approximately $50 billion in economic activity for the state each year.  In the late 1980s when beaches were closed due to contaminated material washing ashore, many jobs were lost in the local tourism industry. 

When the Deepwater Horizon spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, local economies felt it the hardest when tourism fell off drastically and commercial fishermen were barred from fishing in large swaths of the gulf.  We cannot allow this to happen off our coast. 

With the Jersey Shore still recovering from Superstorm Sandy, we cannot risk another blow to our coast from a liquefied natural gas spill.  This past summer New Jersey had a strong beach season, with locals and tourists alike showing their Jersey pride by patronizing local businesses and enjoying our replenished beaches.  Just imagine what a blow it would be to that recovery if a spill were to occur. 

Frankly, I am surprised that this proposed project is moving forward given Governor Christie’s public opposition to LNG facilities off the coast of New Jersey and his previous veto of a similar project in 2011.  Under the Deepwater Port Act, Governor Christie, as the governor of an adjacent coastal state, has the absolute power to veto the Liberty Natural Gas project. 

New Jersey should be taking a national lead on promoting a forward-looking energy policy that moves towards increased use of renewable energy sources that create jobs here at home, and away from importing or exporting polluting fossil fuels from other countries. 

I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to incentivize these types of clean energy sources.  Thank you.