NEWARK, NJ - U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today criticized the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's (BOEM) Record of Decision (ROD) that provides a framework for oil and gas exploration off of the Atlantic coast. The ROD will allow BOEM to consider individual permit applications for geological and geophysical survey activities in the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic Planning Areas.

"Today's decision represents another handout to Big Oil. At a time when these companies are raking in sky-high profits while they pollute our air and irreparably damage our marine ecosystems, we do not need to make it easier for them to expand their offshore drilling operations," said Sen. Menendez. "The use of these seismic cannons not only endangers the marine life off of our coasts, but is a step towards opening up New Jersey's coastal communities to the kind of catastrophic environmental damage that we have seen in the Gulf of Mexico. I will continue fighting to keep drilling off of New Jersey's coast or anywhere in the Atlantic from endangering our shores. As the devastating effects of climate change are coming sharply into focus, we should be concentrating our resources on clean and renewable forms of energy, rather than capitulating to the deep pockets of Big Oil."

Senator Menendez has long opposed the expansion of offshore drilling, particularly in the Atlantic where it could endanger New Jersey's coastline and economy. Earlier this year, he sent two letters to BOEM as they were finalizing the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for this seismic blasting. In February, Senator Menendez signed a letter with several of his colleagues asking for a delay in the completion of the PEIS until the National Marine Fisheries Service could finalize an important Marine Mammal Acoustic Guidance document. In March, Senator Menendez led a letter with a number of his colleagues to request an extension of the public comment period for the Final PEIS, and was successful in securing an additional 30 days of public review. Additionally, in early July, the Senator sent a letter with Senator Booker and Congressman Pallone opposing any expansion of offshore drilling into the Atlantic Ocean in BOEM's new 5 year offshore leasing plan to be implemented beginning in 2017.