GOVERNOR STATES OPPOSITION TO OFF SHORE DRILLING

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GOVERNOR STATES OPPOSITION TO OFF SHORE DRILLING

Date: 031027
From: http://www.state.nj.us/

GOVERNOR STATES OPPOSITION TO ENERGY BILL PROVISION
THAT WOULD ALLOW OFF SHORE DRILLING

October 24, 2003

Trenton - Demonstrating his commitment to New Jersey's shores,
Governor James E. McGreevey today sent a letter to energy conferees
urging them not to include provisions in the Energy Bill Conference
report that would permit off shore drilling.

The Governor cited ecological as well as economic reasons for his
opposition. The provision would undermine the current moratorium on
drilling activity and allow oil and gas exploration in the Outer
Continental Shelf (OCS) areas of the Mid-Atlantic. For New Jersey,
this type of exploration could mean oil and gas drilling 50 miles off
the shore-exposing the shoreline and estuaries to high environmental
risks. Economically, the provision would threaten New Jersey's $26
billion tourism industry, a half million jobs, and its $2 billion
fishing industry.

- New Jersey and other states affected by the recent blackout over
the summer realize that enacting a new and substantive energy
policy is of critical importance to the nation," said McGreevey.
"It is crucial that we achieve these goals without endangering our
coastal ecosystems and threatening those states whose economies are
dependent on their shores."

- Governor McGreevey's strong efforts today, combined with the strong
bi-partisan showing from a majority of the members of the New
Jersey Congressional delegation, should put energy conferees on
notice that New Jersey lawmakers will not stand by and allow an
assault of our coastline," Congressman Frank Pallone Jr., (D-NJ)
said. Pallone initiated a letter signed by twelve members of the NJ
Congressional delegation last month urging the elimination of
several provisions, including the off shore oil inventory, that
could threaten the New Jersey coastline. "Both the House and Senate
are already on record in opposing this controversial provision. The
conferees should not disregard that record now."

- Thirty years of environmental progress for the ocean is being
threatened by this bill-for example, a provision that could lead to
off shore oil and gas drilling that has been aggressively pursued,"
said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action. "Oil and
water don't mix, and the effort to include these provisions is
reckless and irresponsible. Clean Ocean Action commends Governor
McGreevey for taking a strong stand in making New Jersey's voice
heard."

The text of the letter is attached:

- - -

The Honorable Pete Domenici
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman

The Honorable Billy Tauzin
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman

The Honorable Jeff Binghaman
Senate Energy and Natural Resources
Committee Ranking Member

The Honorable John Dingell
House Energy and Commerce
Committee Ranking Member

Dear Energy Conferees:

As you work to finish the Energy Bill Conference report, I would like
to underscore my strong opposition to a provision that could have a
dramatic impact on New Jersey's coastal communities.

New Jersey and other states affected by the recent blackout over the
summer realize that enacting a new and substantive energy policy is of
critical importance to the nation. I applaud the efforts of Congress
to modernize our electricity infrastructure, while looking towards new
ways of developing alternative energy sources, and reducing our
dependence on foreign oil. However, it is crucial that we achieve
these goals without endangering our coastal ecosystems and threatening
those states whose economies are dependent on their shores.
Unfortunately, it would appear that a provision currently being
considered by the conference committee would have exactly that
consequence by potentially opening up the Outer Continental Shelf
(OCS) to oil and gas drilling.

New Jersey has fought off efforts to establish drilling off of its
shores for over two decades, and our reasons were clear. The potential
for ecological disaster increases exponentially with any offshore oil
or gas rig. In certain coastal areas in the Gulf of Mexico where
pipelines already exist from offshore drilling, the Natural Resources
Defense Council estimates that an area of salt-marshlands greater than
the area of coastline stretching from New Jersey to Maine has been
destroyed. We cannot expose New Jersey's estuaries and shoreline to
the risks that come from offshore drilling.

The provision being considered by the conference committee would
undermine the current moratorium on drilling activity and allow oil
and gas exploration in the OCS areas of the Mid-Atlantic, Gulf, West
and Alaskan coasts. In New Jersey, this exploration could lead to oil
and gas drilling a mere 50 miles off of our shore. While the
supporters of this provision maintain that it is simply an effort to
inventory our domestic resources, this is plainly a backdoor attempt
to lay the groundwork for oil and gas rigs off of our coastal states.

My opposition not only stems from an ecological point of view, but
also a basic economic one. Simply put, a healthy New Jersey tourism
industry, which generates annual revenues of $26 billion, in addition
to over a half million jobs, is crucial to our State's economy.
Furthermore, our commercial and recreational fishing industries pump
in another $2 billion annually. With both of these industries
dependant on clean beaches and vibrant oceans, any disruption caused
by oil and gas drilling would have a disastrous effect on New Jersey's
environmental and fiscal health.

As you know the House of Representatives, as recently as last week,
clearly and specifically rejected this provision, while the Senate has
omitted it completely from its energy bill. The fact that this
provision is being considered by the Conference Committee is counter
not only to the clear intent of the both the House and Senate in their
energy bills, but also to over twenty years of Congressional action
preventing drilling activities on the OCS, and two separate executive
orders installing moratoria on drilling. This transparent drilling
effort, linked with recent attempts to weaken clean air standards and
the shortfall of critical funding for superfund site clean up, paints
a troubling picture about the commitment to preserve and protect our
environment. Clearly these issues need to take a greater priority in
the national agenda.

New Jersey, through its Congressional delegation, its Administration,
and its citizens has spoken with near unanimity in its opposition to
this provision. As the conference committee continues to complete its
work on the Energy bill, I urge you to withdraw this provision from
consideration.

Sincerely,
James E. McGreevey
Governor

* * *

Contact: Micah Rasmussen, 609-777-2600

State of New Jersey Governor's Office
POB 004
Trenton NJ 08625

Copyright (c) State of New Jersey, 2002