Bipartisan NJ lawmakers urge Zinke to refrain from offshore drilling

Bipartisan NJ lawmakers urge Zinke to refrain from offshore drilling
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan group of New Jersey lawmakers on Sunday sent a letter urging the Trump administration to withdraw offshore drilling projects in the Atlantic Ocean, arguing that the plan could pose serious consequences for their state.

In a Sunday letter to Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeTrump official violated ethics rules in seeking EPA job for relative, watchdog finds Killing bear cubs and wolf pups in their dens on National Park Service lands in Alaska is wrong Overnight Energy: Biden campaign says he would revoke Keystone XL permit | EPA emails reveal talks between Trump officials, chemical group before 2017 settlement | Tensions emerge on Natural Resources panel over virtual meetings MORE, Democratic Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerWarren condemns 'horrific' Trump tweet on Minneapolis protests, other senators chime in Senate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers Senators ask DeVos to adjust FAFSA form due to the coronavirus pandemic MORE and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezGovernment watchdog: 'No evidence' Pompeo violated Hatch Act with Kansas trips No time to be selling arms to the Philippines Senate panel approves Trump nominee under investigation MORE joined outgoing Gov. Chris Christie (R) and his successor, Gov.-elect Phil Murphy (D), in repeating their opposition to possible offshore drilling off the coast of New Jersey. 

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"We write to demonstrate that when it comes to protecting New Jersey's coast, New Jersey speaks with one voice, united in opposition to allowing drilling off our shores," the lawmakers wrote in part, urging Zinke to "immediately withdraw consideration of the Atlantic from the Five-Year Program."

"This new proposed program now directly opens all offshore waters along New Jersey’s 130 miles of coastline through its proposal to pursue two lease sales in the North Atlantic. Oil spills do not respect state borders which means drilling anywhere off the Atlantic Coast puts New Jersey’s shore in danger."

Their letter comes after Zinke said he would exclude Florida from any offshore drilling in the administration's five-year plan after meeting with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R). The secretary said he arrived at this decision because Florida's "coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver."

The New Jersey lawmakers argued their state should also be exempt because they also have economic industries that could be affected by offshore drilling, including recreational fishing industries and tourism.

"We agree with your assessment that drilling for oil and gas offshore could negatively impact a coastal state’s tourism industry, and New Jersey is no exception to that rule. The New Jersey tourism industry accounts for one out of 10 jobs in the state’s workforce, and this industry has continued to grow year after year," they wrote.

"Each year our state’s coastal economy generates millions of dollars in revenue, and provides hundreds of thousands of jobs in industries that depend on protecting New Jersey’s picturesque beaches and coastal environment," they added.

The letter comes after New Jersey's 14-seat congressional delegation invited Zinke to visit the state last week to "learn firsthand about how offshore drilling would harm our communities and our economy."

Others lawmakers from Virginia, New York and other states have also requested their states be made exempt from the proposal.