New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has joined a multistate coalition opposing the federal government's expansion of offshore drilling, signing on to a letter that highlights the ways oil and gas exploration off the New Jersey coast would have “devastating” economic and environmental effects.
Gov. Phil Murphy welcomed the action.
“I am proud to stand with Attorney General Grewal as he takes this step to oppose what would be a disastrous decision by the federal government to expand offshore drilling at the Jersey Shore,” Murphy said in a statement.
“Offshore drilling off our coastline, or anywhere on the Atlantic Coast, puts our state at increased risk of oil spill or accident, a risk New Jersey’s environment and economy simply cannot afford. We cannot allow the federal government’s short-sighted vision of profit to put our future in jeopardy.”
Writing to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, the coalition of attorneys general expressed “deep concerns” and strong opposition to the Interior Department’s National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Draft Proposed Program, which has been described as the single largest expansion of oil and gas exploration leasing ever proposed by the federal government.
The letter points out that offshore drilling threatens “more than 3 million jobs across America” and poses a danger to the “unique ecologies” in states like New Jersey. The letter calls for termination of the new offshore drilling plan in its entirety.
Grewal included language in the letter to draw attention to the stark impacts the action would have on New Jersey. The state’s 130-mile coastline, the letter explains, is “the pride and joy of its residents, and has long been vital to New Jersey’s economy,” generating more than $44 million in coastal tourism revenue in 2016, supporting more than 838,000 jobs and generating $5.6 billion in federal taxes.
The New Jersey coast is also host to “a thriving and nationally prominent fishing industry” the letter notes, and is home to an ecosystem of “global importance.”
The letter raises a collective eyebrow over the exemption of Florida from the expanded drilling program Jan. 9, less than one week after it was introduced.