NJ fights Trump’s offshore drilling proposal

A bipartisan group of New Jersey elected officials has teamed up to ask the Trump administration to stop talks of allowing offshore drilling off the coast of their state.

Incoming Democratic Gov.-elect Phil Murphy and outgoing Republican Gov. Chris Christie of the Garden State joined together with Democratic Sens. Cory Booker and Bob Menendez to send a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke expressing their stance on the issue of offshore drilling.

“We write to demonstrate that when it comes to protecting New Jersey’s coast, New Jersey speaks with one voice, united in opposition to allowing drilling off our shores,” the letter reads. “It is for these reasons that we urge you to immediately withdraw consideration of the Atlantic from the Five-Year Program.”

The joint letter is a show of force coming after Zinke excluded Florida from any proposed offshore drilling plans because “its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver.”

The letter from the New Jersey elected officials expressed that their state should be excluded for the same reason.

“We agree with your assessment that drilling for oil and gas offshore could negatively impact a coastal state’s tourism industry, and New Jersey is no exception to that rule. The New Jersey tourism industry accounts for one out of 10 jobs in the state’s workforce, and this industry has continued to grow year after year,” the letter to Zinke stated.

The leaders also referenced Superstorm Sandy, which devastated the New Jersey coastline in 2012 and said their tourism and fishing industries already suffered a blow due to the storm.

Last week, all 14 members of the New Jersey congressional delegation invited Zinke to visit the Jersey Shore and “learn firsthand about how offshore drilling would harm our communities and our economy.”

Nearly every governor with an ocean coastline opposes Trump’s offshore drilling proposal. One supporter is Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage. Gulf Coast governors who already have drilling off their shores are open to new exploration.

Back in August, Christie’s administration sent a letter to the Trump administration saying the governor “strongly opposes any waters off our coastline being considered for inclusion in this leasing program.”

This also isn’t the first time Murphy is speaking out in the issue since being elected.

“We must stand firm against any plan for fossil fuel exploration, drilling, or development off the Atlantic Coast — whether it be three miles, 30 miles, or 300 miles from New Jersey,” Murphy told reporters earlier this month.