Offshore drilling should not be coming off the coast of New Jersey. U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Frank Lautenberg applauded the Administration’s decision not to drill off the East Coast. The Senators also remain skeptical about the five year plan’s potential lease sales off of Alaska, however.
The Department of Interior announced its 5 year offshore oil and natural gas leasing program for 2012-2017. The Proposed Program includes six offshore areas and schedules 15 potential lease sales for the 2012-2017 period – 12 in the Gulf of Mexico and three off the coast of Alaska. TheOCS Lands Act requires Interior to prepare a 5-year program that includes a schedule of oil and gas lease sales and indicates the size, timing and location of proposed offshore leasing activity. The Senators want to hear more about the proposed Alaska leases as they are near environmentally sensitive areas but do require further study and safety planning before going forward.
In 2009, the Obama Administration had proposed allowing oil drilling in Virginia waters less than 100 miles from the New Jersey coastline. Much of New Jersey’s $35.5 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.