LETTER – Trump Targets Jersey Coast for Offshore Drilling

Today, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke will host a news media ​telephone briefing regarding the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program). Trump’s proposal is to auction oil and gas drilling rights in the Arctic Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and possibly Pacific waters around the U.S. He ordered his Interior Department to write the new blueprint with the aim of auctioning oil and gas drilling rights off the U.S. East Coast. Trump’s proposal would span the years 2019 to 2024, replacing the Obama plan, which runs through 2022.

“Trump has targeted our coast for offshore drilling, jeopardizing our tourism, ecosystems and fisheries while harming people who live along the coast. He’s siding with Big Oil and Gas and taking the first steps towards offshore drilling. They are ignoring the wishes of millions of Americans and the plans of the Obama Administration by moving forward with offshore drilling,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. We had the biggest victory in 40 years when the Obama Administration blocked offshore drilling.  This five-year prohibition excluded drilling and exploration in the Atlantic and portions of the Arctic Ocean in a new offshore leasing plan.

While President Obama made efforts to protect our oceans, the Trump Administration is pushing forward with seismic testing and offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Arctic Ocean.

“We will keep on fighting just like we have done for over forty years to protect our coasts. We need to stand up to continue to protect our coasts because one quart of oil pollutes a million gallons of water so this is a serious threat. We have to explore new technologies for wind and wave power and remove obstacles that stand in the way of clean energy. We should be focusing on promoting safe and renewable energy like wind power and not opening up the Atlantic to drilling”,said Tittel.

Industry leaders have lobbied the Trump administration to sell drilling rights in the U.S. Atlantic as a way to complement existing oil production in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil companies also want the Trump administration to sell drilling rights in Arctic waters north of Alaska and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico — where federal law bars new oil leasing through 2022.

“While there are five times more jobs in clean energy than fossil fuels, Trump is pushing for dirty fuels that threatens our economy. Despite his alternative facts, the data shows that there are vastly more jobs in renewable energy such as solar than there are in the fossil fuel industry. No matter what fossil fuels say, we will stop them from drilling in our shores,” said Tittel.

While most U.S. waters are technically open for oil and gas development, the activity can only take place on leases sold under the government’s five-year plan.The Interior Department’s draft is only an opening bid – and the plan could change after public meetings and required environmental reviews.

About half the members of New Jersey’s Congressional Delegation have sent a letter to Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) opposing the Trump Administration’s decision to revisit the 5-year lease plan on oil exploration and drilling in the Atlantic Ocean. Senators Booker and Menendez, along with Congressmembers Pallone, Sires, Pascrell, Norcross, and Watson-Coleman have signed on. The possibility of an oil spill or leak would threaten New Jersey’s entire coastal economy.

“While Trump and Zinke want to look for the best places to drill, we will use their own science against them in Court. Sierra Club’s lawsuit will defend our safety, ecosystem, fisheries, and coastal economies from Trump’s dangerous and greedy actions. Sierra Club will show that drilling anywhere in the Mid-Atlantic would directly put our coasts at risk. The oil would be taken to refineries in our area, further putting us at risk. We must stand up to Trump and the fossil fools in Washington. The same ‘Drill Baby, Drill’ crowd are now the ‘Spill Baby, Spill Crowd,” said Tittel.

Today, at 1:00 PM EST, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke will host a news media ​telephone briefing regarding the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program).

“The only oil we want on our beaches is sun tan oil. From Belmar to Anwar, we need to make sure our coasts are protected.  We cannot drill ourselves into energy independence. We need to stand up to continue to protect our coasts because one quart of oil pollutes a million gallons of water, so this is a serious threat. We have a choice between windmills off our coasts and oil rigs. We choose wind,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.