WASHINGTON — New Jersey’s incoming and outgoing governors joined U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez Sunday in urging President Donald Trump’s administration to immediately end talk of allowing oil drilling off the Garden State’s coastline.
The proposal “puts at risk the strength of New Jersey’s economy and the health of the state’s unique marine ecosystem,” the two Democratic senators, Gov. Chris Christie, and Gov.-elect Phil Murphy all wrote to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Zinke last week excluded Florida from any drilling plans through 2024 because “its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver.”
New Jersey officials said their 130 miles of coastline deserve the same protection for the same reason.
As Florida goes, so should Jersey
“The New Jersey tourism industry accounts for one out of 10 jobs in the state’s workforce, and this industry has continued to grow year after year,” the officials wrote to Zinke in a letter led by Booker. “Iconic shore destinations from Asbury Park to Cape May attract visitors from across the world and deserve to be protected.”
At risk could be a New Jersey tourism industry generating $44 billion annually and supporting 500,000 jobs along with a commercial fishing industry which adds $7.9 billion a year to the state’s economy with its 50,000 jobs.
“You have said that your responsibility to evaluate our nation’s offshore oil and gas leasing plan will emphasize the consideration of local and state voices,” the officials wrote to Zinke. “We write to demonstrate that when it comes to protecting New Jersey’s coast, New Jersey speaks with one voice, united in opposition to allowing drilling off our shores.”
The letter released Sunday was the latest effort by New Jersey to fight the Trump administration’s proposal to open almost all of the nation’s coastal waters to offshore drilling, including those like the Atlantic coast that were excluded from the current 2017-2022 plan.
“Senator Booker felt it was important to show that this isn’t a Democratic or Republican issue,” spokesman Thomas Pietrykoski said. “This is a New Jersey issue.”
Last week, the entire 14-member Garden State congressional delegation invited Zinke to visit the Jersey Shore and “learn firsthand about how offshore drilling would harm our communities and our economy.”
Separately, Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-3rd Dist., an opponent of oil drilling off the Jersey Shore, spoke to Zinke and said he came away assured that “stakeholders, including elected officials, local businesses, and fishing industry-related groups would be consulted on this issue.”
Trump, who has called global warming a hoax, was elected on a platform of increasing the use of fossil fuels such as oil and coal. His drilling plan helps fulfill his campaign pledge.
We’d like equal treatment for NJ and I’d like to meet with you to explain why. The Jersey shore is our pride and joy and an economic driver for our communities – we cannot…