Upper East Coast US Senate, House members oppose Atlantic leasing

Observing both Earth Day and the fifth anniversary of the Macondo deepwater well accident and crude oil spill, US Senate and House members—largely Democrats from Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states—introduced bills to stop federal offshore oil and gas leasing off the Atlantic coast.

The measures were responses to the US Bureau of Ocean Management’s draft proposed 2017-22 Outer Continental Shelf management program, which would include a single Mid-Atlantic lease sale in 2021 (OGJ Online, Jan. 27, 2015).

“Imagine the devastation an oil spill in the Atlantic would cause—not just to my home state of New Jersey, but to states up and down the East Coast,” said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), primary sponsor of S. 1042, the Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism (COAST) Anti-Drilling Act.

“The Jersey Shore’s tourism industry alone generates $38 billion/year and directly supports almost half a million jobs,” he said in an Apr. 22 briefing which nine of the bill’s cosponsors also attended. “We’re introducing the COAST Act to help protect our local economies, marine life, the health of our shore residents, and to tell Big Oil that America’s coastline is not for sale.”

Cosponsors included eight more Democrats—Sens. Cory Booker (NJ), Edward J. Markey (Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Benjamin J. Cardin (Md.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Jack Reed (RI), and Barbara Mikulski (Md.)—and Independent Bernard Sanders (Vt.).

“We don’t need the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster to know that offshore drilling in the Atlantic should be completely off the table,” said US Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ), who introduced a companion bill, HR 1976, with the same name on Apr. 22. “Now, with the administration’s dangerous proposal to permit drilling off the Atlantic Coast, we must step up our efforts to protect the Jersey Shore’s environmental and economic health,” he said.

Thirteen more House Democrats from New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Virginia, Florida, and Illinois cosponsored Pallone’s bill.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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