NJ Dems want offshore drilling ban

On Friday, President Obama announced a five-year, temporary ban on offshore drilling off the Atlantic coast. On Monday, in a guest editorial in the Newark Star-Ledger, New Jersey’s U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez made the case for making the ban permanent.

east-coast-senators-450.jpgYou can read the Senator's comments here.

On April 22, Earth Day, Menendez and Cory Booker, also a Democratic U.S. senator from New Jersey, joined other Congress members to introduce the COAST Act, which would prevent the Dept. of the Interior from issuing leases for oil exploration or drilling along the entire U.S. Atlantic coast.

"Imagine the devastation an oil spill in the Atlantic would cause – not just to my home state of New Jersey, but to states up and down the East Coast,” said Sen. Menendez at the time. “The Jersey Shore’s tourism industry alone generates $38 billion a year and directly supports almost half a million jobs.”

In his Monday editorial, Menendez again hammered home the point, declaring: “It would destroy one of the largest saltwater recreational fishing industries in the nation and jeopardize its over 50,000 jobs. An oil spill would sink the values of more than $700 billion of coastal properties — homes and small businesses.

“Residents along the Jersey Shore are some of the most hard-working, resilient people I've ever met, and many are still recovering from Superstorm Sandy. The last thing they need is the threat of an oil spill wiping out their businesses, their hard work, and their ability to provide for their families,” he stated.

The legislators say that drilling off any part of the U.S. Atlantic coast, including states such as Georgia and Virginia, would adversely affect the entire region as oil spills and other potential disasters would not be confined to one segment of the ocean.

Come January, Menendez and Booker will have a new Congressional ally in Rep. Josh Gottheimer, who has made environmental protection a major component of his platform.