BELMAR, NJ — Standing on an oceanfront deck of Belmar’s new Taylor Pavilion, Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, and Rep. Frank Pallone, 6th Dist., held a news conference to announce plans to continue the fight to ban offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean.
Following the opening of the Taylor Pavilion on May 1, the lawmakers said they will reintroduce the Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism (COAST) Anti-Drilling Act, which prohibits the U.S. Department of Interior from issuing leases for the exploration, development, or production of oil or gas in New Jersey and neighboring states.
Their announcement comes three days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that directs Interior Secretary Ryan Zincke to review a plan by former President Barack Obama that stipulates which locations are available for off-shore oil and gas exploration. In essence, Obama’s five-year plan issued late last year blocks oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean and certain areas in the Atlantic Ocean.
“Sandy was a natural disaster that devastated our state. The last thing we need is a manmade disaster in the form of an offshore oil spill,” Sen. Menendez said. “The COAST Anti-Drilling Act doesn’t merely aim to preserve the current five-year offshore drilling ban; it stops the Atlantic from ever ending up in any plan. It draws a line in the sand — a line that we must never let Big Oil cross.”
COAST was first introduced in the House of Representatives in April 2015 and then referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, where no action has been taken on the measure.