WASHINGTON, D.C. — Seven members of the House of Representatives, including New Jersey’s Frank Pallone, D-6th, said Tuesday they will introduce legislation to block the Trump administration from expanding offshore drilling for gas and oil.
U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, D-2nd, said he has signed on as a co-sponsor to Pallone’s bill, which would permanently ban offshore oil and gas development in the Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Atlantic, Straits of Florida and Eastern Gulf of Mexico.
Van Drew expects the legislation to be introduced Wednesday.
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“The bottom line is offshore drilling isn’t worth the risk,” said Van Drew, adding he still believes we need to rely on fossil fuels for a time.
But Van Drew said there isn’t enough gas and oil in the Atlantic to make it worthwhile to risk a spill and the devastation it would bring to the fishing and tourism industries on which coastal economies rely.
President Donald Trump’s administration has moved to potentially open federal waters in the Atlantic, which run from three to 200 miles out, to oil and gas exploration.
The Jersey Shore tourism industry supports more than 838,000 jobs and contributes an estimated $38 billion to the state economy, “including vibrant commercial and recreational fishing industries,” said Ed Potosnak, executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters.
Last April Gov. Phil Murphy signed a ban on offshore drilling in state waters, just before the start of Earth Day and Earth Week festivities and on the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill off Louisiana.
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The law, which was co-sponsored by then state Sen. Van Drew, prohibits any drilling or activities or infrastructure that support offshore drilling from happening in state waters, which run from the shoreline to three miles out.
That means the state would not allow any facilities that would support drilling in federal waters, Van Drew said at the time.
Also Tuesday, a group of nine democratic state lawmakers from different coastal states said they will move to pass similar legislation in their states.
The other Congress members introducing legislation are:
Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-California, to block drilling off California
Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Florida, to impose a permanent moratorium on drilling in the South Atlantic, Straits of Florida and Eastern Gulf of Mexico
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Rep. David Cicilline, D-Rhode Island, to prohibit leasing off New England
Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-South Carolina, to put a 10-year moratorium on drilling off the Atlantic Coast and the Eastern Gulf of Mexico
Rep. Jared Huffman, D-California, to prohibit drilling off the West Coast and in the Arctic Ocean
Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Virginia, to ban drilling off the Mid-Atlantic Coast
The U.S. Department of the Interior is expected in the coming weeks to announce a plan to auction off the nation’s public waters for expanded drilling off virtually the entire U.S. coastline, according to the National Resources Defense Council.