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Christie Administration Rejects New Federal Plan to Explore Waters Off New Jersey for Gas, Oil

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The Christie administration has formally opposed a federal plan that would permit oil and gas exploration off New Jersey's coast along large underwater tracts on the ocean’s outer continental shelf. Credits: Cathy Goetz
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TRENTON, NJ — The Christie administration has gone on the federal record opposing plans that would permit natural gas and oil exploration off the coast of New Jersey.

Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin submitted formal comments on August 16 to federal officials affirming the state’s “steadfast opposition to natural gas and oil exploration in Atlantic Ocean waters off New Jersey," in response to the newest proposed National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas and Leasing Program. Under the five-year program for 2019 to 2024, large underwater tracts on the ocean’s outer continental shelf from Maine to Florida, including New Jersey, could be leased for oil and natural gas exploration. New Jersey was not included in earlier programs of its kind.

 “New Jersey has consistently and steadfastly opposed any industrialization of our coast that could negatively impact New Jersey’s precious natural resources or vibrant coastal communities,” Martin said in a letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which issued the call for comments through the Federal Register on July 3.

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“These waters are home to plant, fish, mammal and avian species, including federally listed endangered species,” he said. “The risk of adverse impacts to our marine waters and the species that depend on them is unacceptable.”

Martin also cited the significant economic benefits the state reaps from its coastline that could be jeopardized by the program. These include a $44 billion tourism industry that generates a total of $10.5 billion in local, state and federal taxes, 838,000 direct and indirect jobs, and robust recreational and commercial fishing industries.

“Given the role of New Jersey’s coastal waters in our economy, the (federal leasing program) would put at risk not only our coastal economy, but a significant portion of our statewide economy,” Martin said.

Gov. Christie has opposed offshore energy exploration or development in the past, including vetoing liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities proposed off the Jersey shoreline.

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