Menendez, Lautenberg Applaud Administration's Decision Not to Drill Near Jersey Shore

Menendez, Lautenberg Applaud Administration's Decision Not to Drill Near Jersey Shore

Senators Remain Skeptical of Plans for More Leases in Alaska

Washington - Today, U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), leading voices in the effort to protect the Jersey Shore from coastline drilling, applauded the Administration's decision not to drill off the East Coast. The Senators also remain skeptical about the five year plan's potential lease sales off of Alaska, however.

"I am pleased that the Administration recognizes that allowing oil drilling near the Jersey Shore is simply too big a risk to the health of our economy, our environment and our families," said Menendez. "As far as I'm concerned, oil drilling and the New Jersey coastline simply do not mix, and never will."

"An oil spill in the Mid-Atlantic would be catastrophic for New Jersey's economy, environment and our way of life," stated Lautenberg. "Beaches would be abandoned, fishermen would be out of work, marine life would be devastated and restaurants and hotels would close down. We will continue fighting to keep the oil industry off our shores so that New Jersey never has to face the kind of devastation that the Gulf Coast experienced last year."

The Department of Interior today announced its 5 year offshore oil and natural gas leasing program for 2012-2017. The Proposed Program includes six offshore areas and schedules 15 potential lease sales for the 2012-2017 period - 12 in the Gulf of Mexico and three off the coast of Alaska. The OCS Lands Act requires Interior to prepare a 5-year program that includes a schedule of oil and gas lease sales and indicates the size, timing and location of proposed offshore leasing activity. The Senators want to hear more about the proposed Alaska leases as they are near environmentally sensitive areas but do require further study and safety planning before going forward.

In 2009, the Obama Administration had proposed allowing oil drilling in Virginia waters less than 100 miles from the New Jersey coastline. Much of New Jersey's $35.5 billion tourism industry comes from the Jersey Shore and the state's multi-billion dollar fishing industry would also be threatened by the specter of a potential oil spill.

Expanded Coastline Drilling Would Be a Threat to New Jersey

  • When medical waste washed up on New Jersey's beaches in 1988, there were 22% fewer visitors to the shore in 1988 versus 1987, which resulted in an estimated drop in revenue of more than $1 billion. [NOAA Technical Memorandum, 1990] And that was waste that could be fully cleaned up-unlike an oil spill. For example, as a result of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off the coast of Alaska, 21,000 gallons of crude still linger in the areas where the spill occurred, and oil-stained sand can still be found on the beaches nearby. In the event of an oil spill, the Jersey Shore could be damaged permanently. [National Geographic, 03/23/2009]
  • The New Jersey tourism industry in 2010 reached $35.5 billion in expenditures (and $4.4 billion in state and local taxes), and has nearly 310,000 workers (8.3% of total NJ workers) earning salaries totaling $10 billion -- providing hospitality to more than 67 million visitors to the Garden State.[NJ Tourism 2009-2010 The Great Recession & Tepid Recovery...So Far, 2010]
  • In 2009, the combined sales of New Jersey's commercial fishers, seafood processors and dealers, and wholesalers and distributors in the retail sector brought in more than $1.7 billion and provided 37,887 jobs. [NOAA: New Jersey Commercial Fisheries, 2009] New Jersey's commercial ports rank ninth in the nation in the value of their catch and 1.1 million recreational fishermen enjoy the Jersey Shore's rich saltwater fisheries. [NOAA: State of the Coast, 2010] New Jersey's most valuable commercial port (the nation's third most valuable) is less than 100 miles from the 2009 proposed lease sale off Virginia.