Congressman Frank Pallone submitted the following statement for the Department of Interior Public Hearing in Atlantic City, NJ on Programmatic Environmental Impact Study on Seismic Testing in the Atlantic Ocean:
Thank you for having this public hearing. I am in Washington, DC voting today and therefore could not appear personally. I am glad that the public has this opportunity to inform and shape how the Department of Interior proceeds on the important issue of offshore drilling.
I am totally opposed to offshore drilling off the Atlantic Coast. My opposition includes any preparatory steps including seismic testing in our waters off the Atlantic Coast. The time and resources that the Department of Interior is allocating to seismic testing could be better used on higher priorities that will allow us to move away from dirty fuels and faster achieve U.S. energy independence through renewables such as wind and solar power.
We all know how important New Jersey's beaches are, not only to residents of our state, but also for countless visitors. Our beaches are a tremendous resource for those who come here to enjoy them, and they are a huge economic engine for our state. They're the primary driver of a tourism economy that supports nearly 500,000 jobs and generates $38 billion in economic activities for the state each year.
Seismic testing is the first step in the direction of opening up the Atlantic coast to oil drilling. Most drilling off the Atlantic coast would be deepwater drilling just like Deepwater Horizon. Yet in the two years since the BP spill none of the proposals recommended by the National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling have been put in place. There have been no improvements in worker safety regulations that will help ensure that another blow out will not cost 11 human lives. We need increased environmental review and planning that will ensure valuable fishing grounds and other ecological assets are not destroyed in the event of an oil leak.
The Department of Interior must halt this process and reconsider its priorities in ensuring American energy independence. The process you are embarking on will have severe consequences on our ocean environment, beaches, marine resources, and coastal economies in the short term and long term. Thank you for listening to my comments and I encourage you to fully consider the public's input here today.