Today, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a leading proponent of transitioning America to alternative, domestic fuels and a staunch defender of the coastline released the following statement:
“I have let the administration know that if they do not protect New Jersey from the effects of coastal drilling in the climate change bill, then my vote is in question. I am deeply concerned about the threat coastline drilling poses to the Jersey Shore’s economy and to the potential for new jobs and energy savings that can be harnessed in a clean energy economy. If issues like coastline drilling are being promoted to gain Republican votes and support from oil companies, then we need to know exactly how much support it will actually deliver — this can’t be a case of giving up something for nothing.
“While I am pleased that the Administration will be conducting an environmental review before proceeding on lease sales potentially close to the Jersey Shore, I am concerned that it has not taken this area out of its five year plan pending an environmental review — as it is doing for the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in Alaska. I expect a serious and thorough review. If it turns out to be nothing more than a rubber stamp, then this announcement will amount to yet another no-questions-asked handout for rich oil companies. In that scenario, the lease sales will go forward and the coastlines of Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey will be under threat. Even Virginia will not be happy because it gets drilling in its waters, but not any revenue sharing. Only big oil companies would win.
“I look forward to working with the Administration to make sure this environmental review is done comprehensively, but I will also be asking for an economic impact review. Drilling in Virginia waters is less than 100 miles from the New Jersey coastline. Approximately 60 percent of New Jersey’s $38 billion tourism industry comes from the Jersey Shore and the state’s multi-billion dollar fishing industry would also be threatened by the specter of a potential oil spill. At the very least New Jersey deserves a 125 mile buffer from drilling, just like Florida received in the announced deal.
“I am also concerned that the Administration will be doing studies to determine whether further exploration should happen all along the Mid and Southern Atlantic. That raises the possibility of drilling in Delaware waters, just 10 miles away from New Jersey.
“Instead of expanding coastline drilling, we should be focused on developing a 21st century green economy. We cannot drill our way out of this problem. Even the Bush Administration’s Energy Information Administration estimated opening all out-shores to drilling would have no effect on gas prices. Instead of making rich oil companies richer we should be competing with Europe, Japan and China to win the competition to supply the world with next generation green technologies. Buying hybrids for the federal government and raising fuel economy standards is a start but we could and should do more.
“It is also troubling that it appears the lease sales in Virginia could go forward and interfere with the Navy’s Virginia Capes Operating Area, a critical military training and testing area. At a time when we are fighting two wars we should not be compromising military readiness no matter what oil companies want.”