Congressman renews call for Obama to ban future offshore drilling in Atlantic Ocean

    AP photo.

    AP photo.

    A congressman representing a portion of the Jersey Shore has renewed calls for the Obama administration to permanently protect both the Atlantic and Arctic oceans from future offshore oil and gas leasing.

    In a letter to President Barack Obama dated today, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., who sent a similar request along with 71 others members of Congress in September, wrote that banning the activity is essential to leading the fight against global warming.

    “A major part of that effort should include preventing dangerous and environmentally harmful oil and gas extraction in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans,” the congressman wrote. “Doing so would help our nation deliver on our climate commitments, and help protect our coastal communities from the health, environmental, and economic impacts of climate change, as well as the possibility of a devastating oil spill.”

    Pallone said that preventing drilling would protect coastal communities, commercial fisheries, wildlife, and tourism. In New Jersey, the tourism economy supports 312,000 jobs and generates $38 billion in revenue annually. 

    “The economic and health benefits of taking that step cannot be underestimated,” he wrote.  

    In a release, Pallone noted President-elect Donald Trump has called for rolling back environmental initiatives proposed under the current administration.

    In March, the Obama administration removed the Atlantic Ocean from lease sales in the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, which is under the auspices of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and required by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

    “The president didn’t reverse course on his offshore plan because he never intended to allow energy production off the Atlantic coast,’’ said Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, an industry trade group, NJ Spotlight reported

    Pyle added that that the administration’s action would impact “the poor and middle class, who would benefit most from greater access to affordable, reliable energy.”

    NJ Spotlight also reported that while the closest drilling to New Jersey would be off Virginia, opponents feared a spill adversely impacting the Jersey Shore. 

    The area remains open to oil and gas leasing in future program iterations.

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