NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, along with the Hub City's Congressman Frank Pallone, were successful in their efforts to persuade the US Department of the Interior to remove the Atlantic Ocean from the "Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program."
The result is that the Jersey Shore will be protected from spills that could hurt both the environment and economy of the state.
The program was set to run for five years, from 2017-2022, and it would have allowed for gas exploration of the Mid and South-Atlantic off the coasts of North and South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia.
As we reported, Menendez, Booker, and Pallone held a rally for the "Kill the Drill" campaign in January 2016 in Asbury Park, joined by 100 local leaders including environmentalists, tourism companies, business owners and residents gathered to protest the oil and gas exploration program.
Speakers at the rally cited the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico and how a mistake like that on the Jersey Shore would cause irreversible damage.
On March 15, the Department of Interior announced the news, saying its proposal "does not schedule any lease sales in the Mid- and South Atlantic Program Area due to current market dynamics, strong local opposition and conflicts with competing commercial and military ocean uses."
Having successfully “killed the drill” Senator Booker says, “I’m pleased the Administration heard our voices and put the values of New Jerseyans ahead of the financial interests of the oil industry. Standing together, we proved we can beat Big Oil and protect our Jersey Shore for generations to come.”
Earlier this month, the Pentagon also reported that the offshore drilling could hurt current military maneuvers, interfering with Navy missile tests used to protect the East Coast.
The economy of New Jersey also heavily relies on the triumphant efforts of the Kill The Drill Campaign. Currently there is a $38 billion revenue from tourism alone.
The shore directly supports half a million direct and indirect jobs which makes up about 10% of New Jersey’s employment. The fishing revenues are about $7.9 billion, supporting almost 50,000 jobs.
Without the efforts of the Senators, the threat against these significant economy boosters would amplify.
“I’m pleased the Interior Department abandoned its shortsighted drilling proposal that threatened the ecology and economy of the Atlantic coast, including our New Jersey coastline,” says Congressman Pallone, who has been in office since 1991.
“Today’s result would not have been possible without lawmakers and concerned residents standing united in opposition to this proposal. We need to continue to reject efforts to drill along our coastline, and to transition to cleaner and more efficient energy sources along our coast.”