It is time to permanently block offshore oil exploration in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans in the wake of a recent federal court district deeming illegal a Trump administration attempt to undo bans in those waters, according to New Jersey’s congressional delegation.
In a letter to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior this week, they urged the agency to permanently withdraw plans to conduct oil and gas exploration in those two oceans, a proposal that has triggered wide bipartisan opposition up and down the Eastern Seaboard.
The bipartisan letter from the 12-member delegation from New Jersey comes on the heels of the Department of Interior’s announcement it would stall plans to expand drilling and exploration in the two oceans following a recent federal court ruling in Alaska.
“Opening areas in exploration in the Mid- and South Atlantic to oil and gas development will put local economies at risk,’’ the delegation said. “Coastal communities along the Atlantic Ocean, including our home state of New Jersey, remain steadfast against any plan for oil and gas in our waters.’’
The plea by the delegation follows huge opposition to the drilling plan proposed by the Trump administration last year, when it argued in favor of opening virtually the entire Outer Continental Shelf to oil and gas exploration in a new five-year plan. In some places, the furor led the administration to drop some areas from potential exploration, like Florida.
In the congressional letter, they argued the state cannot risk exposing the coastal communities to oil and gas development. “We ask that you permanently withdraw plans to drill along our Atlantic coastline,’’ the delegation said.
In a decision in March, a federal court in Alaska ruled the administration’s plan to undo drilling bans in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans was illegal. The opinion said only Congress has the authority to add areas to the leasing program, the court ruled.