LoBiondo Reaffirms Opposition to Allow Off-Shore Drilling in Mid-Atlantic Region
U.S. Representative Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) today submitted the following statement for the official record during the Minerals Management Service's Informational Meeting on the proposal to allow off-shore drilling in the Mid-Atlantic region. Due to scheduled votes in Washington, a member of LoBiondo's Mays Landing office delivered the Congressman's statement at the informational meeting, which was held in Atlantic City.
Statement for the Record
Minerals Management Service Informational Meeting on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the 5-Year Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2007- 2012
Monday, November 13, 2006
Atlantic City, New Jersey
I would like to thank the U.S. Department of the Interior's Mineral Management Service for inviting me here today, and for accommodating my and my colleagues request to hold this meeting. I believe it is very important that I, and all in New Jersey and the surrounding areas who are affected by this proposal, have this opportunity to express our concerns.
I strongly oppose any proposal that would authorize drilling off our coasts, including the current Mineral Management Services plan to conduct lease sales in the Mid-Atlantic planning region off the coast of Virginia, as included in the Proposed 2007 - 2012 Outer Continental Shelf Leasing Program and Draft Environmental Impact Statement. As a member of the House of Representatives I have had many opportunities to make my opposition to drilling clear by consistently voting against legislation that would open further areas to drilling. In addition, for the past several Congresses, I have introduced legislation which would prohibit the Secretary of the Interior from issuing oil and gas leases on portions of the Outer Continental Shelf located off the coast of New Jersey.
Drilling in the Mid-Atlantic region puts at risk some of the nation's most sensitive coastal and marine resources. Bipartisan legislative and administrative actions have protected these sensitive coastal areas from offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling for more than 20 years. Since 1982, Congress has included moratoria on Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas activities in annual Interior Appropriations bills. Executive memoranda signed by Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton placed a moratorium on new leasing on the OCS through 2012. These are actions I have strongly supported.
These protections mean a great deal to New Jersey. Our tourism economy, a $30 billion industry which supports nearly 500,000 jobs, is heavily dependent on the cleanliness of our beaches and ocean environment. Additionally, our robust commercial and recreational fisheries, some of the largest in the nation, generate over a billion dollars in revenue. The potential environmental and aesthetic risks posed by offshore oil and gas development, especially for the relatively small amount of estimated recoverable oil and gas reserves off our and neighboring shores, could seriously imperil these vital contributions to the economy of New Jersey.
The area proposed to be opened off the coast of Virginia is roughly 75 miles from pristine ecological habitat in Cape May. Unfortunately, 75 miles is more then close enough for an oil spill or other incident to threaten our beaches and fisheries. This threat, which we could not control, is simply more then the citizens of New Jersey should be asked to accept.
Because of this devastating potential impact to my home state, I must again state my opposition to the current Mineral Management Services plan to conduct lease sales in the Mid-Atlantic planning region off the coast of Virginia, as included in the Proposed 2007 - 2012 Outer Continental Shelf Leasing Program and Draft Environmental Impact Statement and ask the Mineral Management Service to reconsider their plan to allow drilling in the Mid-Atlantic region.