Trenton – Bidding for offshore oil and gas leases could begin as early as 2019 in almost all federal waters, including the entire Atlantic seaboard, including the Jersey Shore, under a new Trump Administration proposal. Environment New Jersey denounced the plan, which would open vast new areas of the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico to drilling, and was joined by a bipartisan set of public officials across the Garden State opposing the plan, including Sen. Booker, Sen. Menendez and Rep. Frank LoBiondo and Rep. Frank Pallone.
“Off-shore drilling is a dirty and dangerous business and the Trump Administration just put the Jersey Shore in their crosshairs,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “There is simply no safe way to drill. The Trump Administration just dared New Jersey to stand up against this outrageous proposal. They rung the bell, and we are going to come out swinging against this blatant attack on all of our coastlines.”
Public opposition to the proposed plan could still alter the plan – the outcry during the Obama Administration from a bipartisan set of coastal leaders, businesses, mayors and citizens helped to deep-six the Administration’s plans. And it should be noted that we as approach the eight-year anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster, the Trump Administration has already proposed to roll back drilling safety protections enacted after that disaster.
During President Barack Obama’s second term, his administration, under pressure from coastal communities and environmentalists, created a five-year plan that protected the Atlantic and Arctic from drilling. Then, just before leaving office, President Obama announced additional protections for parts of the Arctic and Atlantic. But after President Obama left office, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order vacating these additional protections. The matter is currently being litigated.
Today’s proposed plan is only the second stage in the approval process – and it is open to public comment. Once the Trump Administration formally releases the plan, the public will have an opportunity to comment. There will be hearings in state capitals across the country, including in Trenton on February 14, Valentine’s Day.
“Everyone who cares about clean and healthy oceans should make his or her voice heard by commenting against this proposal. This should be a Valentine’s Day massacre for this atrocious proposal that absolutely disregards the historic opposition to off-shore drilling off the Jersey Shore,” said O’Malley. “We will fight for the Jersey Shore by fighting this plan.”
By opening these areas to drilling, the Trump Administration will be acting counter to the best available science – and the will of coastal residents. The past two years has seen an unprecedented outcry against drilling. Communities up and down the Atlantic coast have passed resolutions against drilling, and businesses have organized an anti-drilling alliance. Similar organizing has also taken place across the country in California.
“Instead of threatening our waterways and marine wildlife, President Trump should pay attention to the thousands of citizens, fishermen, and business owners along the Atlantic Coast and the millions of Americans from Alaska to Maine who have already said ‘no’ to offshore drilling,” said O’Malley. “Today’s action is the wrong decision and we will do whatever it takes to block proposals to drill off our coasts and protect the Jersey Shore.”