(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly members Bruce Land, Bob Andrzejczak, Vincent Mazzeo and Nicholas Chiaravalloti to discourage offshore drilling in state waters was approved, 71-2, by the General Assembly on Thursday.
The sponsors introduced the bill last session in response to Executive Order No. 13795 entitled “Implementing as America-First Offshore Energy Strategy” which President Trump signed on April 28, 2017. The executive order encourages oil and natural gas production off the Atlantic coast.
“Opening up the Atlantic Ocean for offshore drilling would put at risk beaches, fisheries, and marine life all along the coast,” said Land (D-Cape May, Atlantic, Cumberland). “An oil spill, like the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil spill of 2010 in Louisiana, would damage the fragile marine ecosystem, kill off endangered and threatened species of fish and wildlife, and poison the many types of fish and shellfish that New Jersey residents and visitors eat and harvest for sale.”
The bill (A-839), referred to as “Shore Tourism and Ocean Protection (STOP) from Offshore Oil and Gas Act,” would prohibit offshore drilling for oil or natural gas in state waters and prohibit the leasing of tidal or submerged lands in state waters for oil or natural gas production, exploration or development.
“Offshore drilling would cause catastrophic and lasting economic harm to the Jersey Shore, which supports a tourism industry worth $38 billion annually, and reduce the quality of life for New Jersey’s residents,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May, Atlantic, Cumberland). “We should prohibit offshore drilling for oil and natural gas.”
“New Jersey’s fishing industry supports approximately 50,000 jobs while our Jersey shore tourism industry is worth $38 billion annually,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “Offshore drilling would unquestionably hurt the New Jersey shore economy as it relates to both the fishing and tourism industries.”
“In many ways, New Jersey’s shore communities and the local economy are still in the process of rebuilding after the tremendous damage sustained by Superstorm Sandy,” said Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson). “Offshore drilling must be prohibited if the state is to protect the progress made in rebuilding and the future of our shore economy.”
The Department of Environmental Protection will implement the provisions of the bill and within 30 days after the effective date, the Commissioner of Environmental Protection will submit this act to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to incorporate them into the enforceable policies of the approved state coastal management program.
It will now go to the Senate for further consideration.