N.J. wants out of Trump plan for offshore drilling

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey wants the state to be exempted from a Trump administration plan for expanded offshore oil and gas drilling. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey wants the state to be exempted from a Trump administration plan for expanded offshore oil and gas drilling. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

After U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke agreed to remove Florida’s waters from consideration for expanded offshore oil and gas drilling, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and some of the Garden State’s federal lawmakers are demanding the same consideration.

The Interior Department granted the request from Florida officials who said expanded offshore drilling poses environmental risks that could devastate the state’s tourism industry and coastal economy.

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez said Wednesday that goes for New Jersey as well.

“I think New Jersey deserves the same right,” he said. “And if it doesn’t get the same right, it will be an item to be litigated. How is it that you can make an arbitrary decision to take Florida off and not New Jersey?”

Tourism is just as important in New Jersey as it is in Florida — and all along the coast, added U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone.

“What happens if a spill occurs off the coast of Savannah or Virginia Beach? It’s going to get to Florida just like it did when the BP spill occurred,” he said. “So [Zinke] should take the entire Atlantic Coast out of this.”

What’s more, Pallone said, Florida should not have special status because President Donald Trump is friends with Gov. Rick Scott.

The president “wants [Scott] to run for Senate, and so he’s throwing him a bone,” said Pallone. “And that’s even worse because then it’s just politics.”

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said Wednesday he’s also seeking an exemption from the Trump administration’s offshore drilling expansion because of risks to that state’s coastline.

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