Obama Administration Drilling Announcement Puts East Coast & Jersey Shore in Big Oil’s Crosshairs

Media Contacts

Environment New Jersey

Today, the Interior Department announced the lifting of a 5-year moratorium on drilling along the Eastern seaboard, specifically the coastal waters of Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia, while at the same time banning drilling along the Arctic Ocean off of Alaska. Below is a statement from Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey:

“President Obama’s legacy should be clean energy, not oil-slicked beaches off the Atlantic. The Jersey Shore and our coastal communities would be placed in an oil bulls eye, with Cape May only 90 miles from proposed drilling off the Virginia coast. Oil spills don’t pay attention to state lines, and Cape May’s beaches shouldn’t be collateral damage. The Shore’s $38 billion tourism economy and our natural heritage is more important than any oil company’s bottom line.

The Atlantic Coast – and the Jersey Shore — is not a chit to be dealt with big oil companies. Our coastal communities shouldn’t be placed in harm’s way and our oceans shouldn’t be handed over to oil companies. This proposal was wrong five years ago, when it was withdrawn amidst heavy public opposition during the backlash of the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Clearly it’s still wrong today.

Today’s move directly contradicts the President’s words during last week’s State of the Union. Scientists, including at Rutgers and Princeton, are clearly showing that climate change is real, and if left unchecked, will have disastrous consequences for our state, especially our coastal communities. Expanding oil drilling off the Atlantic Coast is a win for oil companies, and a huge loss for the Shore and our climate.

Drilling in the Arctic is a perilous exercise, frought with peril and tremendous environmental damage. We have always said we needed to stop drilling in Alaska so we won’t see off-shore drilling spread to the Atlantic Coast. The record of oil companies – most recently Shell’s blatant disregard of safety protocols with its attempt to drill test wells via the Kursk – exposes the fallacy of drilling off Alaskan waters near the Arctic Circle. But that doesn’t mean we should turn over Atlantic coastal waters to Big Oil.

We thank Senator Menendez and Booker and Congressman Pallone for their staunch opposition to off-shore drilling and their quick condemnation of the Obama Administration’s proposed plan. We will need allies like them and the public to convince the Obama Administration that it was a bad idea five years ago, and it’s a bad idea now. We urge New Jersey Governor Chris Christie – who has spoken out strongly in the past against off-shore drilling — to add his voice to the chorus of opposition.

This proposal is half-baked and should be shelved again. We urge the public to weigh in with the White House and their federal representatives to keep oil drilling away from the Jersey Shore.”