Norcross Votes to Keep Offshore Drilling Away from the Jersey Shore
Cites economic, environmental & national security reasons for keeping oil & gas rigs away from the Atlantic Coast
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01) voted for the Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act, H.R. 1941, which blocks new offshore drilling along the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines. The bill is a direct rejection of the Trump Administration’s attempts to open new leasing in vulnerable American waters.
“A Deepwater Horizon-type oil spill off the Jersey Shore would devastate our coastal ecosystem and communities – not to mention our economy – for decades to come. It cannot be allowed to happen, and our New Jersey delegation is leading the fight to keep oil rigs away from our shore,” said Congressman Norcross. “Today, the House sent a strong message that we care about having vibrant coastal economies and clean beaches and oceans for future generations.”
Early this year, Trump’s Interior Department proposed a new 2019-2024 five-year plan to allow drilling in more than 90% of the outer continental shelf, which encompasses 90% of the areas of the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans. They are also attempting to reverse the existing ban on Atlantic drilling through 2022, but that effort, thankfully, was blocked by a federal judge in April.
New Jersey’s shore-based tourism industry generate $43 billion a year and supports almost half a million jobs, or nearly ten percent of the state’s entire workforce. There are over $700 billion in coastal properties on the shore and New Jersey’s commercial fishing industry generates over $7.9 billion annually and supports over 50,000 jobs. The state also has one of the largest saltwater recreational fishing industries in the nation.
Drilling off the Atlantic also has potential national security risks. For years, the Pentagon has warned that drilling off the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico could hurt military maneuvers and interfere with missile tests the Navy relies on to protect the East Coast. For example, Department of Defense spokesman Matthew Allen said: “Live training exercises are conducted off the Atlantic Coast from unit level training to major joint service and fleet exercises. These live training events are fundamental to the ability of our airmen, sailors, and marines to attain and sustain the highest levels of military readiness. Additionally, [the Defense Department] conducts major systems testing activities in the mid-Atlantic region that are also important to military readiness.”
Norcross, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, added: “We need to ensure the Trump Administration does not get away with defying the advice from the Department of Defense. It’s a national security necessity that will protect our coasts.”
Since coming to Congress, Norcross has joined bicameral efforts to kill drilling off the Atlantic. After constant appeals to the Administration in the 114th Congress, the lawmakers were successful in keeping a prohibition of drilling in the Atlantic in the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program of 2017-2022.
In 2017, when reports surfaced that locations were being reviewed for expanding the availability for offshore oil and gas exploration, Norcross urged the Trump Administration to keep in place the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program of 2017-2022.