VIDEO: Menendez, Booker, Pallone Reintroduce COAST Act in Response to Trump Executive Order to Expand Offshore Drilling

VIDEO: Menendez, Booker, Pallone Reintroduce COAST Act in Response to Trump Executive Order to Expand Offshore Drilling

COAST would #KillTheDrill; Protects Atlantic beaches, Jersey Shore economy

BELMAR, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and Congressman Frank Pallone (N.J.-06) visited the Belmar Boardwalk with U.S. Senator Cory Booker to announce that today they will reintroduce the Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism (COAST) Anti-Drilling Act that would ban offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean.  On Friday, President Trump signed an executive order that takes the first steps towards allowing offshore oil and gas drilling along the East Coast.


“Sandy was a natural disaster that devastated our state.  The last thing we need is a man-made disaster in the form of an offshore oil spill,” said Sen. Menendez.  “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.”


"An oil spill in the Atlantic Ocean would severely harm the environment and damage our coastal economies, especially the thousands of small businesses that line the Jersey Shore,” said Sen. Booker.  “We can’t afford to sit idly by while our ocean and coastal region is exposed to this risk.  Our bill, which bans offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic region, seeks to prevent an oil-related disaster in New Jersey and our neighboring states."


“President Trump has now taken a dangerous step that will risk the livelihoods of millions on the Atlantic Coast and in New Jersey. An oil spill anywhere along the Atlantic Coast would cause severe environmental damage to fisheries, popular beaches and wildlife. I will work with members of the New Jersey delegation and colleagues in Congress to pass the COAST Act and prevent the Trump administration from wreaking havoc on New Jersey’s coastal communities,” said Rep. Pallone.


COAST prohibits the U.S. Department of Interior from issuing leases for the exploration, development, or production of oil or gas in the North, Mid-, or South Atlantic Ocean or the Straits of Florida.  Sen. Menendez’s legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Booker, Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).  Rep. Pallone is the chief sponsor of companion legislation he is also reintroducing today in the House of Representatives.

The Jersey Shore is home to over $700 billion in coastal properties and a tourism industry that generates $38 billion a year and supports almost half a million direct and indirect jobs, or nearly ten percent of the state’s entire workforce.  New Jersey’s vibrant commercial fishing industry generates over $7.9 billion annually and supports over 50,000 jobs.  The state has one of the largest saltwater recreational fishing industries in the nation.  All of these are threatened by offshore drilling.

The economic and environmental devastation of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy far exceeded what many believed would be the worst-case scenario for an offshore oil accident.  More than seven years later, the Gulf Coast still hasn’t fully recovered from its catastrophic impact.  At a time when New Jerseyans are continuing to rebuild their lives after Superstorm Sandy, the last thing they need is the prospect of a manmade disaster from an oil spill.

Last year, Sens. Menendez and Booker and Rep. Pallone led the charge to remove the Atlantic Ocean from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Draft Proposed Program (Five-Year Plan)

The New Jersey lawmakers in December also successfully convinced President Obama before leaving office to permanently ban oil and gas exploration in areas of the Atlantic Ocean by exercising the authority granted to him by Congress under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA).

 President Trump’s executive order seeks to roll back those protections and reopen the Five-Year Plan to expand offshore drilling.