Groups call on New Jersey and New York to Stand Firmly Against Bills 

Sandy Hook, NJ -- This Thursday, just over one year from the destruction of the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico by the BP Oil Disaster, Congress will begin voting on three pieces of legislation that, if passed, would open ocean areas to drilling within 75 miles of New Jersey’s coast, allow indiscriminate drilling policies, and weaken rules for drilling activities.  Individually and collectively, the bills threaten the region’s maritime heritage, coastal economy and way of life.  The first of the votes is scheduled to take place this Thursday, May 5, 2011.

“These bills are a nightmare for the ocean allowing the mistakes of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico to be brought to the doorsteps of our shorelines,” said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action. “How could we not have learned our lesson? How many more coastal economies will have to suffer?  Citizens need to call their elected officials to oppose these bills,” she added.

Clean Ocean Action (COA) is urging the Congressional delegations of New York and New Jersey to oppose three pieces of legislation.  Over the past several weeks, COA has sent letters to the members’ offices, urging the NJ delegation to stand firm in their long-standing opposition of offshore drilling policies that threaten the ocean and coast.  Groups are urging elected officials to vote “no” on the following: 

  • • H.R. 1229:  “Putting the Gulf Back to Work Act,”  (a.k.a. “No Legal Review or Oversight of Big Oil Act”) a piece of legislation that imposes rushed, arbitrary permitting deadlines and would prevent enforcement of key public-interest and environmental laws by putting up roadblocks to judicial review of agency decisions. 

    • H.R. 1230:  “Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act,” (a.k.a. “Mandate Drilling Off Virginia’s Coast, Immediately, No Matter What Act”)  a bill that specifically targets several areas, including “Sale 220” (an area within 75 miles of the New Jersey Shore), for immediate drilling approval, with no environmental review or public input, while also mandating the use of out-dated environmental and resource reports generated pre-Deepwater Horizon.  

    • H.R. 1231:  “Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act,” (a.k.a. “Lease At Least Half Of All Our Oceans and Put All Of The Atlantic On the Table Act”)  a bill that uses agency reports generated under the last administration (that have since been proven to be inaccurate and out-of-date estimates of the recoverability of oil and gas in the Atlantic) to open the Atlantic Ocean to oil and gas exploration and production activities.

“This trio of bills guts environmental, administrative, and judicial review of offshore drilling, requires drilling to commence off the Virginia Coast (just 75 miles from the Jersey Shore) within one year, and permanently opens the rest of the Atlantic Ocean to drilling.  Furthermore, these bills mandate the use of bad science, bad analyses, and out-dated estimates – mistakes that will prove disastrous to our coastal environment just as has happened to the Gulf of Mexico’s coastal environment.  We call on elected officials from all states with robust coastal economies to oppose these bad news bills,” said Sean Dixon, Coastal Policy Attorney from Clean Ocean Action. 

“We must not allow Congress to enable the BP Oil Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico to occur off all our shores,” said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action.  “We have witnessed, first-hand, the devastation and lasting impacts of irresponsible energy policies and offshore drilling.  The New Jersey delegation, Governor Christie, and millions of concerned citizens have voiced their opposition and once again, it is time for us to stand in solidarity to protect the ocean: an economic and environmental asset that we all treasure.”

“We encourage citizens to join the efforts of Clean Ocean Action by calling their representatives and asking them to vote “NO” on these three bills,” Zipf concluded.  Citizens can get more information on this legislation, find their legislators, and take action by visiting the Clean Ocean Action website at www.cleanoceanaction.org.