TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland) and Senator Troy Singleton (D-Burlington) to help stop offshore drilling in state waters was approved by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee today.
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.
“New Jersey’s coast is vital for the fishing industry and recreational fishing,” said Senator Van Drew. “It is home to a wide array of rare fish and other species and a spill in the proposed drilling areas could devastate the sensitive ecologies of the Jersey Shore. Opening up the Atlantic Ocean for offshore drilling would put at risk beaches, fisheries, and marine life all along the coast.”
New Jersey’s fishing industry supports approximately 50,000 jobs while the Jersey Shore tourism industry is worth $38 billion annually.
“At a time when we should be investing in new and cleaner energy, the United States should be focusing on how to grow a new energy sector instead of exposing New Jersey to the risks posed by offshore drilling,” said Senator Singleton. “Offshore drilling would cause catastrophic and lasting economic harm to the Jersey Shore and harm the quality of life for New Jersey’s residents.”
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.