TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Sens Jeff Van Drew (D-1st) and Troy Singleton (D-Burlington) to help stop offshore drilling in state waters was approved by the Senate 37-0 March 26, according to a release.
The bill (S-258/A-839), referred to as "Shore Tourism and Ocean Protection (STOP) from Offshore Oil and Gas Act," would prohibit offshore drilling for oil or natural gas in state waters and prohibit the leasing of tidal or submerged lands in state waters for oil or natural gas production, exploration or development.
“This is a back-door way of blocking the offshore drilling that would be allowed by the federal action,” stated Van Drew. “We control the first three miles at the state level, so we will use that authority to try to hinder or block drilling along the Jersey coast, which is vital for the fishing industry.”
New Jersey's fishing industry supports approximately 50,000 jobs, while the Jersey Shore tourism industry is worth $38 billion annually.
"Offshore drilling poses a significant threat to environmentally sensitive areas along the coast and also to our tourism industry, on which our local and statewide economy depends,” stated Singleton. “Any potential spill or related disaster would put our environment, our marine life, and the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of hard-working New Jerseyans at risk.”
The bill is a response to President Trump’s Executive Order No. 13795 entitled "Implementing as America-First Offshore Energy Strategy," signed on April 28, 2017, which encourages oil and natural gas production off the Atlantic coast.
The Department of Environmental Protection will implement the provisions of the bill, and within 30 days after the effective date, the Commissioner of Environmental Protection will submit this act to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to incorporate them into the enforceable policies of the approved state coastal management program.