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Don’t Rig Our Coastal Economy: New Report & Campaign Outlines Risks of Offshore Drilling

Date : Fri, 25 May 2012 12:49:04 -0400

Outlines Risks of Offshore Drilling

For Immediate Release
May 24, 2012 Contact Jeff Tittel 609-558-9100

*Don’t Rig Our Coastal Economy: New Report & Campaign Outlines Risks of Offshore Drilling*

Governor Christie has not been aggressive in opposing the threat of oil drilling off our coasts. Previous Governors, both Republicans and Democrats, stood firmly against opening up the Atlantic Coast to drilling that could jeopardize our state’s $38 billion coastal tourism industry.A new report by the Sierra Club today, /Don’t Rig Our Coastal Economy/, outlines just what those economic impacts.But Governor Christie has been silent on the issue despite moves by the federal government and other states that could have devastating impacts on our beaches, fisheries, and shore economy.When governor ran he said he opposed offshore drilling, but since then he has followed Big Oil and the Tea Party’s agenda.

"Last year the Governor said ‘Get the hell off the beach!’If he has his way we will all be saying that when there is an oil spill.The Governor is not actively protecting our coast and our economy from potential oil drilling while the federal government is conducting studies to start drilling ten miles off our coast," *said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club*. The report found that New Jersey’s coastal tourism industry supports nearly 500,000 jobs, and one out of every six of the state’s jobs are linked in some form to its shoreline. Visits to the area generate $16.6 billion in wages and add $5.5 billion to the state’s tax coffers. If an oil spill where to occur off our coast it would have significant impacts on the tourism sector.During the summer of 1988 when medical waste washed up onto a 50-mile stretch of New Jersey’s shore, tourism dropped off significantly and the area directly lost at least $1 billion in revenue.An oil spill off the coast of New Jersey could trigger an even more dramatic decline in tourism. Sierra Club will be launching a campaign with radio ads, social media, and banners at the beach over Memorial Day Weekend because the Governor has reversed from his previous opposition to off-shore oil drilling during his campaign days.When the Governor ran he supported off-shore wind and other clean energy programs.Since taking office he has gutted the Clean Energy Fund to close budget gaps, stalled the off-shore wind program, and advanced policies that have practically crashed the solar market.We are holding him accountable for protecting our beaches, our environment, and our economy from the dangerous impacts of offshore drilling.

"We would rather see windmills off our coast than oil rigs, but we are not so sure where the Governor stands," said Jeff Tittel. Earlier this year the Department of Interior (DOI) released a draft plan to allow seismic testing in the Atlantic Ocean to evaluate oil, gas, and other resources. The seismic testing will be occurring 10 miles off the coast of Cape May and could lead to drilling.Releasing a proposed seismic testing plan is a potential first step towards drilling.The Governor has not spoken out on the DOI plans and no one from the DEP or the administration attended the DOI public hearing in Atlantic City in April on the testing. The Governor and his administration have also been silent on Virginia’s Plan to drill off their coast.Virginia is less than 100 miles away from New Jersey and if an oil spill occurs there, our fisheries and beaches will feel the impacts.Shell Oil Company has said it plans to run a pipeline through our state's waters to service the Virginia drilling operations if they move forward. When two pieces of legislation to Fast-Track off-shore oil drilling in the Atlantic were before Congress last summer, Governor Christie kept quiet.One of the bills would have allowed drilling 10 miles off our coast.The other bill would directly threaten New Jersey’s coast by opening up virtually the entire coast to offshore drilling. Any potential drilling even off of the coast of Delaware or Virginia is a threat to New Jersey beaches.

"The only oil we want to see on the beach in New Jersey is Coopertone," said Jeff Tittel. Governor Christie pocket vetoed a bill to increases the liability limit in the event of an oil spill.The Oil Spill Liability Bill would have allowed the state to receive more compensation if an oil spill hit our coast.An oil spill would not only affect our beaches and tourism, but our fisheries as well. New Jersey has a multi-billion dollar fishing industry in Cape May in particular. Increased drilling off our coasts won’t significantly lower energy or gas prices, but it could cause irreparable damage to our economy and environment.Oil and gas drilling is a dirty and risky business. Offshore operators have had 14 large-scale oil spills in the past 10 years alone. In addition to those major spills there are the everyday spills that are a routine cost of business for Big Oil. The National Academy of Sciences reports that a single well routinely releases up to 2,000 tons of pollution. Current technology is incapable of removing more than a small fraction of the oil spilled into ocean waters, leaving the rest to poison wildlife, pollute our beaches and harm the New Jersey’stourism and fishing industries.

"An oil spill will be the biggest disaster to hit the Jersey Shore since Snooki- It is not worth the risk. Instead we need clean energy solutions such as offshore wind and increased fuel economy standards," *said Jeff Tittel*. The full report is available at:<a>

Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
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Received on 2012-05-25 09:49:04

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
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