Dem Pallone slams Obama offshore drilling plan

Rep. Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat, said Wednesday he is upset with President Barack Obama's plan to open areas off the East Coast to offshore oil and gas drilling.

Pallone represent the Garden State's sixth district, which occupies a long stretch of the Jersey shore just south of New York City.

"Allowing any offshore drilling on the Atlantic Coast is an invitation to an environmental catastrophe that would have severe economic consequences for New Jersey," he said in a statement. "The coastal beaches and ocean waters of the Jersey Shore are environmental treasures that anchor the state's tourism industry and possess special meaning as a part of New Jersey's identity."

Pallone's objection to Obama's plan is notable because it drives a wedge between a Democrat and the White House, but is also to be expected.

Ten Senate Democrats who represent coastal states recently wrote a letter to Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), the architects of the Senate's climate bill, saying they will oppose it if it greatly expands offshore drilling. 

Pallone expressed concern about the potential environmental damage that could be caused by an oil spill.

The drilling plan has won over several centrist Democrats and some Republicans, but earned the rebuke of House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), who said Wednesday it did not go far enough in opening up areas of the Pacific and some parts of Alaska to drilling. 

Cross-posted to the Briefing Room