Congressman Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) today testified at the Minimal Management Service's (MMS) regional meeting on the proposed 5-year outer continental shelf oil and gas leasing program which could potentially open the coastline of New Jersey to drilling. Held in Atlantic City, the public meeting is the first of four being held by MMS, and the only one on the East Coast.
During his testimony this morning, LoBiondo announced that he would again introduced legislation this Congress to prevent oil and natural gas drilling off the coast of New Jersey. LoBiondo has introduced similar legislation each Congress for the past 10 years.
Below is the full statement LoBiondo delivered this morning at the public meeting (as prepared for delivery):
Statement for the Record
Minerals Management Service Regional Meeting on Proposed 5-Year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program
Monday, April 6, 2009
Atlantic City, New Jersey
I would like to thank Secretary Salazar and the U.S. Department of the Interior's Mineral Management Service for inviting me here today, and for holding the first of the four nationwide regional public meeting here in Atlantic City, New Jersey. I believe it is very important that I, and all in New Jersey and the surrounding areas who are affected, have this opportunity to voice their views on this proposal currently being considered by the Administration.
As a life long resident, I remain opposed to any proposal that would authorize drilling off New Jersey's coast. 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. I will be introducing this legislation again in the 111th Congress.
I applaud the Secretary for encouraging discussions during these regional public meetings not only on conventional energy resources and their potential impact, but also on the promise of renewable offshore energy resources. We must aggressively pursue cleaner energies which are sustainable and produce no greenhouse gas emissions. After witnessing the success of the Atlantic County Utility Authority's existing wind turbines, I strongly believe the State of New Jersey has taken a step in the right direction with its advocacy of wind farm projects off of our shores.
We cannot however ignore the reality that traditional fuel sources such as oil and natural gas production continue to play an important role for our country. There remain more than 68 million acres across the U.S. - both on land and off-shore - already leased for oil and natural gas exploration. These are the areas that are available right now and which must be focused on. We cannot gamble with our beaches, tourism and growing ecotourism industries which are the economic livelihood of New Jersey.
Our tourism economy, a $38 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, could seriously imperil these vital contributions to the economy of New Jersey.