N.J. lawmakers firmly oppose offshore drillingadmin
With the rolling surf of Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park as a backdrop, the state’s Democratic Congressional leadership pledged to continue to do exactly what they’ve been doing to block a Senate bill to allow offshore drilling.
U.S. Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, and Rep. Frank J. Pallone Jr., all D-N.J., also announced their strong opposition to legislation recently passed by the House of Representatives that would allow oil drilling off the coast of New Jersey.
They had the support of Lisa P. Jackson, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action, Andrew Mencinsky, president of Surfers Environmental Alliance and Dena Mottola of the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group.
“A lot of times . . . we look like we’re just crying wolf,” Pallone said. “We’re not crying wolf. This is real.”
The House bill would open up a large area of the coast to oil and gas drilling and would lift all leasing bans beyond 100 miles from state shores. Between 50 and 100 miles, leasing would be allowed unless states seek to block it. States that want to keep drilling 100 miles off their own shores would have to pass legislation every five years.
On Thursday, Menendez and Lautenberg wrote to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, asking him to place a “hold” on the legislation. They have pledged to do the same to any other offshore drilling bill or amendment that opens New Jersey’s coast to drilling ”” forcing the Republicans to garner at least 60 votes in the Senate in order to pass any legislation, they said.
“I’m ready to talk all day and all night if I have to,” said Menendez of a filibuster to block any oil drilling bill.
“I’ve seen what happens when the worst takes place,” said Lautenberg, who was on site two days after the Exxon Valdez spilled its cargo in 1989.
“I would like to preserve the beaches, keep the environment as close to natural as we can,” said Joan Gentile of Piscataway, who was a visitor to the Shore Friday. “I don’t know if offshore drilling is the right way to go. If there is a spill, what would happen?”