Washington - Today, President Obama announced a number of actions in response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, including cancelling the drilling lease sale along the Virginia coast. The drilling site in question included areas less than 100 miles from the Jersey Shore.

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has led the fight against expanded coastline drilling. He authored a letter to President Obama after the Deepwater Horizon disaster urging that East Coast drilling plans be reversed (http://menendez.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/?id=4f44a3d0-6b65-43dd-a41a-bddfb9fc5a54). Today, he applauded the administration's decision as a step toward fully protecting the Jersey Shore from risk and implementing smarter energy policy.

"Small businesses preparing for the beach season have no doubt wondered how they would survive if oil started washing up on the Jersey Shore," said Menendez. "We can all breathe easier that our shore will not be put at risk from a nearby oil rig in the foreseeable future. The Jersey Shore is part of our lives, and for many New Jersey families, it is the source of their livelihoods. This action will protect us in the near term, but we ultimately need to go a number of steps further and ensure that the East Coast will never be subject to oil rigs. Now is the time to put our muscle behind finally transitioning from the fossil fuels of the past to the clean, limitless energy sources of the future."

In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Menendez has led the way in the fight to ensure that oil companies are fully accountable to coastal communities facing economic damages from current and future oil spills. The latest version of his Big Oil Bailout Prevention legislation would establish unlimited liability for oil companies that spill.

Menendez also continues to lead the efforts to end the close ties between federal regulators and the oil industry, which allows oil companies to escape close scrutiny of safety precautions. His Stop Cozy Relationships With Big Oil Act (http://menendez.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/?id=febbc0ca-c98d-412a-bd72-8116f86b4a97) would shut the revolving door between the regulatory agencies and the industry and crack down on gifts and financial incentives.