Menendez, Booker, Pallone Urge Greater Inclusion, Transparency as Admin Considers Oil Drilling off Atlantic Coast

Menendez, Booker, Pallone Urge Greater Inclusion, Transparency as Admin Considers Oil Drilling off Atlantic Coast

Invite BOEM head to meet with Jersey Shore stakeholders

WASHINGTON, DC- U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-NJ), and Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ-06) today called for increased transparency and that all relevant stakeholders have a voice in the process as the Obama Administration considers allowing oil drilling exploration off the Atlantic Coast.

"The people of New Jersey stand to lose the most if an oil spill in the waters of the south Atlantic washes up on New Jersey's beaches, and their voices deserve to be heard," said Menendez, Booker and Pallone in a letter to Dr. Walter Cruickshank, the acting director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

The lawmakers invited Dr. Cruickshank to New Jersey to meet with and hear directly from local residents, business owners and community leaders along the Jersey Shore.

"We strongly believe that the input of these groups would provide valuable perspective to BOEM as you work to make consequential decisions about the future of oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic," they wrote.

Menendez, Booker and Pallone cited a recent closed-door meeting BOEM held with a number of elected officials, State agencies, and representatives of the oil and gas industry to discuss BOEM's initial steps on the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program, in which environmental groups reportedly were excluded from participation.

"If groups that advocate for the protection of shore economies and clean water are deemed a special interest, it is difficult to understand how companies that stand to profit from the exploitation of these resources are not as well," the letter continued.

In July, Menendez, Booker and Pallone sent a letter to President Obama urging his administration to keep the Atlantic Coast off limits for oil and gas exploration, stressing that the environmental and economic consequences of an oil spill near the Jersey Shore would be catastrophic.

The full text of the letter follows and can be downloaded here.

November 20, 2014

Dr. Walter Cruickshank
Acting Director
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

Dear Dr. Cruickshank:

According to recent reports by the Associated Press (AP), you and other officials in the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) recently participated in a closed-door meeting with a number of elected officials, State agencies, and representatives of the oil and gas industry to discuss BOEM's initial steps on the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program. According to the report, environmental groups that petitioned to join the meeting were excluded due to federal concerns that these entities represented a "special interest."

The AP article goes on to outline the speakers at the meeting, including representatives from the Consumer Energy Alliance, whose members include ExxonMobil, BP, ConocoPhillips, and Shell; and the Center for Offshore Safety, whose members include Halliburton, Chevron, Hess, Marathon, Anadarko, and Transocean. While the meeting's participants may not be directly on the payrolls of these companies, they clearly speak on behalf of their members, who all stand to profit a great deal by opening up the Atlantic to offshore drilling. If groups that advocate for the protection of shore economies and clean water are deemed a special interest, it is difficult to understand how companies that stand to profit from the exploitation of these resources are not as well.

In order to ensure that you hear all sides of the story, we write to invite you to visit the State of New Jersey prior to BOEM's issuance of the first draft of the five-year OCS plan, to discuss the issue of offshore drilling with the people who will be most impacted. Each year, our State's shore economy generates hundreds of thousands of jobs in industries including tourism and fishing, which all depend on protecting New Jersey's beautiful beaches and thriving marine ecosystems. We would be pleased to help facilitate a meeting between you and representatives of our shore businesses, local fishermen, and community groups that fight to keep our beaches clean.

We strongly believe that the input of these groups would provide valuable perspective to BOEM as you work to make consequential decisions about the future of oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic. The people of New Jersey stand to lose the most if an oil spill in the waters of the south Atlantic washes up on New Jersey's beaches, and their voices deserve to be heard.

We look forward to your prompt response, and to hosting you soon in New Jersey.

Sincerely,

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