NEW JERSEY – Ground has finally been made in the recent battle against a proposal for offshore drilling off the coast of New Jersey.
On Feb. 27, Congressmen Tom MacArthur (NJ-03) and Chris Smith (NJ-04) met with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to express concerns regarding the Department of the Interior’s proposal, urging him to remove New Jersey from the list of proposed locations for the project.
Following this meeting, it looks hopeful that New Jersey will be taken off the list of coastal locations to be opened up to oil and gas exploration and drilling, according to a statement from the Congressmen.
“We made it quite clear to the Secretary that we, as representatives of the people of New Jersey, are united in our unequivocal opposition to this proposal,” Smith stated. “We must protect our pristine beaches and coastal waters, and the tourism and fishing industries that rely upon them; one spill could be a disaster for our state. After our conversation with the Secretary, I am confident that the proposal will soon be off the table for New Jersey.”
The NJ representatives expressed concerns about the potential economic impact that offshore drilling could have on the state’s tourism-based economy.
“Bottom line is it needs to be protected. Ocean County depends on the Ocean. I commend our Congressmen for joining us and fighting this battle,” said Ocean County Freeholder Joe Vicari in a release.
Florida was previously deemed exempt from the proposal, mere days after it was officially announced, according to a release from Smith’s office. Florida was removed due to its “unique” tourism based economy.
US Representatives MacArthur and Smith pleaded with Zinke on similar grounds, noting that NJ also relies on its tourism industry and offshore drilling could negatively, and seriously, impact that.
“It was a productive conversation and I am confident the Secretary understands New Jersey’s unique concerns and hope that he will remove our state from this list. I’m grateful the entire New Jersey delegation stands united in this effort,” stated MacArthur in the release.
Ocean County’s Board of Chosen Freeholders is also demonstrating their support for this fight against offshore drilling, remarking that Ocean County has “dodged a bullet.”
“This is an environmentally sensitive area that has long faced threats from New York City and Northern New Jersey,” said Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little in a release. “We’ve worked hard to stop ocean dumping and to keep our waters clean. Ocean drilling would be a step in the wrong direction.”
Little noted that he was confident that the county’s Congressional Delegation would continue to monitor the situation and take whatever action is necessary should calls for offshore drilling resurface, he stated in the release.