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Release: Obama Opens up Drilling off NJ Coast

Date : Wed, 31 Mar 2010 11:59:29 -0400

Grace Sica, Outreach Coordinator NJ Sierra Club 145 W. Hanover St. Trenton, NJ 08618 p: 609-656-7612 f: 609-656-7618 For Immediate Release Contact: Jeff Tittel, Chapter Director
March 31, 2010 (609) 558-9100

Obama Opens up Drilling off NJ Coast

Today President Barack Obama will announce the beginning of oil exploration in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern Atlantic Ocean. This will open up areas on the Northern tip of Delaware for exploration, potentially placing oil and natural gas rigs 10-12 miles off the coast of Cape May.

The announcement will open up the Atlantic Ocean for exploration as far north as Cape Henlopen, the northernmost cape of Delaware. The area for exploration is huge encompassing 3 miles from the coast, at the beginning of federal water, to approximately 150 miles out to sea. Any spill will hit South Jersey beaches. Exploration includes geologic and environmental studies and is a requisite step before opening bidding on lease sales.

"This is only 10 miles off our coast, so on a clear day you will see these oil wells and any spill will directly impact our beaches," said NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel. "This is a sell-out of our beaches and our shore to Big Oil."

We are extremely disappointed by the Obama administration instead of promoting clean energy and real energy independence we are revisiting the failed policies of the past that undermine green jobs and addressing climate change. This is a step backward for climate change and renewable energy. Instead of investing in cleaner cars and renewable technology we will be promoting investment in dirty off shore drilling.

The current proposal is much larger than the proposal put forth by the Bush Administration. Last year Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar stopped exploration of a much smaller area off the coast of Virginia. This year the proposal is 20 times larger.

For 26 years the drilling off the Atlantic Coast was barred. The moratorium was lifted in the summer of 2008. New Jersey will be severely impacted by this shift in policy. Exploration will increase oil and gas ships in and out of the Delaware Bay. In addition, Shell Oil Company, in a public meeting in December 2008 in VA, said they plan to pipe the oil up to NJ. The potential for spills and leaks from tankers and pipelines criss-crossing our waterways will raise significantly.

The announcement stated that lease sales will not take place before 2012. The administration has placed a moratorium on offshore wind until 2016. So, we will allow for oil rigs off New Jersey before wind. Allowing for drilling will endanger New Jersey's beaches and put off the necessary transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. This decision undermines New Jersey's ability to control greenhouse gases and move us to a green economy.

"It is easier to put oil rigs off the Atlantic Coast than windmills." Tittel said. "We are either going to have a green economy based on renewable energy or we will continue with the fossil foolishness of the past."

Drilling off our coast will do nothing to lower gas prices; it will only jeopardize beaches and energy independence. New Jersey's coastal tourism industry is a $34 billion a year industry. An oil spill would have a catastrophic impact on New Jersey's economy at a time when our economy is already in trouble

"The spring is when people begin to think about vacation, but when it comes to protecting our coast there is never any vacation," said Tittel. "While people begin looking to rent their beach houses oil companies are looking to rent our coasts."

The oil industry currently has access to millions of acres that they are not using. It is a troubling decision to open up the mid-Atlantic coast, one of the last pristine areas. The Sierra Club will continue fighting this and standing with our Senators Lautenberg and Menendez to make sure this doesn't come to fruition.

"With this proposal on a clear day from Cape May you would be able to see oil wells. But, the only oil we want to see on our beaches is Coppertone," said Tittel.


Received on 2010-03-31 08:59:29

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at

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