Menendez Leads Effort to Overcome Coastline Drilling Amendment in Senate

Menendez Leads Effort to Overcome Coastline Drilling Amendment in Senate

Vitter amendment defeated; would have scuttled Interior Sec. Salazar’s review of Bush plan that could lead to drilling along the Jersey Shore

Washington - Late yesterday, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) led an effort that overcame an attempt to pave the way for coastline drilling - potentially including drilling along the Jersey Shore. Senator David Vitter (R-LA) was pushing an amendment to the Interior Department Appropriations bill that would have rushed Interior Secretary Salazar's review of Bush Administration offshore drilling plans to allow for unfettered coastline drilling.

Menendez, working with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), blocked the Vitter amendment. They then led the Senate in a 56-42 vote against Vitter's attempt to send the Interior bill back to the committee level, where his amendment would be included.

"In the last days of his administration, President Bush tried to give away our coastlines to oil companies," said Menendez. "This is a plan that could put the Jersey Shore at risk without providing any real economic benefit to families. Secretary Salazar is undertaking a thorough review of this oil company handout, and it is simply reckless to scuttle that effort. I'm proud to have overcome this dangerous amendment, and I will continue to stand up for the Jersey Shore, our environment and forward-looking energy policy."

A moratorium on coastline drilling ended last year. Bush's offshore drilling plan would let the Interior Department lease the coastlines for drilling over a five-year period, without any real restrictions. Menendez is the sponsor of the COAST Act to permanently ban drilling along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Maine.