Lawmakers seek ban on Atlantic offshore drilling

Two Democratic lawmakers from New Jersey said Monday they would sponsor legislation to ban offshore oil and natural gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) timed their announcement for the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill at a BP well in the Gulf of Mexico.

ADVERTISEMENT

It comes as the Obama administration is considering auctioning some drilling rights in the Atlantic, somewhere between Virginia and Georgia.

“Imagine the devastation an oil spill in the Atlantic would cause — not just to our home state of New Jersey, but to states up and down the East Coast,” Menendez said in a statement.

“I am looking forward to re-introducing this Senate bill to ban Atlantic offshore drilling in an effort to not only protect the Garden State’s economy, but to guarantee a healthier and happier future for all East Coast citizens,” he said.

“We don’t need the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster to know that offshore drilling in the Atlantic should be completely off the table,” said Pallone, who is the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“However, it does remind us of the detrimental and lasting environmental and economic damage that can be done by an oil spill, and that the technology does not exist to safely drill for oil offshore,” he said.

While leaders in the states that would be closest to the drilling generally support it, the Atlantic states farther north are opposed, and fear that oil from a spill would reach their shores.

Pallone said his bill has 13 co-sponsors; Menendez’s has seven.