NJ Lawmakers Continue Fight For Public Hearings On Off-Shore Drilling

NJ Lawmakers Continue Fight For Public Hearings On Off-Shore Drilling

Express disappointment with response, request in-person meeting with agency chief

Washington - A bipartisan group of New Jersey lawmakers today reiterated their call for public hearings in New Jersey to afford Garden State residents the same rights as other states in voicing their concerns about drilling off the Atlantic coast. U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Frank R. Lautenberg, as well as, U.S. Representatives Frank Pallone Jr., Frank A. LoBiondo, James Saxton and Chris Smith today wrote to the Minerals Management Service, expressing disappointment with the agencys continued refusal to grant hearings and to request an in-person meeting to further discuss the matter.

While it is bad enough to deny the people of New Jersey the chance to make their voices heard on this crucial issue, we are particularly concerned with the questionable reasoning displayed in your letter, the lawmakers wrote.

The Minerals Management Service earlier this year announced a five-year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, which proposed drilling off the coast of Virginia. Such oil exploration just 75 miles from the New Jersey shore could have perilous effects on Garden States tourism, hospitality and gaming industries, in addition to the overall quality of life. There are currently public hearings scheduled for several states including Virginia and Florida, but not New Jersey.

Last month, the same officials called on the federal government to host hearings in New Jersey, thereby acknowledging the risk shared by Garden State residents should off-shore drilling begin off Virginias coast.

As we stated in our original letter, the ocean has no boundaries, and the threat that Florida's beaches face from oil and gas drilling at distances greater than 100 miles is no different than the threat New Jersey's beaches face from drilling at distances far less than that, the lawmakers wrote. We would also like to meet with you in person to discuss MMS's rationale for the offshore administrative boundaries and the denial of our request for a public hearing.

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