There is a War On The Shore in New Jersey – and most of the rest of the east coast – and we don’t mean a competing version of the mid-winter, Asbury Park Cold War pro surf contest.
This “competition” has much more at stake than a couple of thousand dollars and could, in fact, cost billions in damages and pit’s the present administrations unquenchable thirst to “drill, baby, drill” for oil along most of the east coast versus the opposition of just about everybody who calls the Atlantic seaboard home.
As one would expect and hope for this unvarnished greed for money and the near total ignoring of alternative energy possibilities The great state of New Jersey is not taking this threat to their coastal economy laying in down.
If th current administration, Zinke and Big Oil want a fight it’s safe to say Jersey and others will give them all they can handle in the coming months and years ahead according to longtime ESM / www.easternsurf.com senior writer Jon Coen in the following report. – Mez –
According to Coen, “On Jan. 4, President Trump announced a plan to open previously off-limit areas in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans to offshore drilling, a total of 90 percent of U.S. waters, including off New Jersey and Long Beach Island. It’s an issue that strikes very close to home for our coastal residents.
Before oil and gas leases can be sold, there is a period for public comment. As part of the process, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the office tasked with managing development of energy off the continental shelf, must initiate an impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act. Starting in January and running until March, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is holding open-house meetings around the nation where the public can engage the government organization about the plan. New Jersey’s first such meeting was held in Hamilton on Feb. 14 and attended by a good number of Southern Ocean County locals”.
Coen continues, “the meeting was not a “hearing” where citizens could make their official statements out loud, something environmental leaders felt was circumventing the democratic process. Those opposed also raised the question as to why the hearing wouldn’t be held on the very coast that was in question. As a reaction, Monmouth County-based Clean Ocean Action held a “Citizens Hearing” in another room at the Hilton Garden for groups opposed to offshore drilling”.
According to Clean Ocean Action, the threat includes opening the entire Atlantic Ocean from Maine including all of the Jersey Shore and New York’s South Shore and would allow behemoth drilling rigs to come as close as three miles from the land which, as you would expect, is a non-starter for any sane coastal dweller.
A week after the plan was announced, Zinke announced that there would be no new drilling off Florida.
This left many responding that Jersey has a massive tourism economy ourselves with the shore area’s specifically stating that would be $20 billion worth of tourism economy which they find pretty damn vital too.
“Like many groups, the Garden Club of LBI is such a diverse group – Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, the religious and atheists – that sometimes it’s hard to agree, but the decision to oppose opening 90 percent of our ocean to oil and gas drilling was a no-brainer,” said Theresa Hagan of the Garden Club. “We are 100 percent against it. Imagine this scenario: oil rigs within 3 miles of LBI’s beaches and another Superstorm Sandy. We could lose hundreds of marine mammals and birds, including 23 endangered species; more than $44 billion in tourist dollars (statewide) with its more than half a million jobs, and $6 billion in commercial fishing. Property values would plummet. And for what? If all the oil and gas sites on the Atlantic coast from Maine to Florida were lumped together, drilling would net the entire country 229 days’ worth of oil and 477 days of natural gas.
“I can’t understand why the rest of the world is backing away from fossil fuels and we’re running toward them. No one is for drilling, including our state and federal representatives.”
Coen also wrote that “The club is sending a resolution to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management opposing ocean drilling and Environmental Chairwoman Mary Wilding has written a letter to Zinke. Members are urged to draft similar protests”.
Coen also stated in his piece for Long Beach Islands The Sand Paper, “Following several live speakers, Clean Ocean Action then got New Jersey’s top lawmakers on a Facetime chat that was broadcast live to the room. The elected officials were able to see the crowd and address those assembled. First were Gov. Phil Murphyand his wife, Tammy Snyder Murphy. Next was Rep. Frank Pallone (N.J.-6th Dist.) and then N.J. Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, who were in D.C., where they were working on a new immigration proposal”.
Coen, quoting Booker at length, “To all those people who love a clean environment, who love the ocean, who love the greatness of New Jersey, this is a day we don’t just talk about our love, but we show our love. And love means often fighting for justice, fighting for what’s right. This is a fight that we have to have, but I see a future where drilling off the coast of New Jersey is permanently banned.”
Booker then ran down the places that oil spills have had truly negative, if not horrific, impacts on coastlines and further added, “We cannot let them bring that kind of environmental disaster to the Atlantic coast, to the shores of New Jersey where hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans from tourism, to those in the commercial fishing industry rely on the pristine Atlantic Ocean for their livelihoods. This is a fight we must take today and tomorrow against the craven attempts of the Trump administration and the oil companies to steal our coast, to steal our beauty and to steal our livelihoods.”
Explains Hearing Process
After the first wave of speakers at the Citizens Hearing, most of those in attendance went over to the far room where BOEM was set up.
“It’s very useful that people are expressing concerns and providing information of the economic impacts. It’s part of what we’re supposed to take a look at. This whole program is mandated by Congress,” explained BOEM’s chief environmental officer, Bill Brown. “The charge is to develop a leasing program for offshore oil and gas but to consider environmental impacts and economic impacts, which can be negative as well as positive. That will be part of the analysis that we give the secretary of the Interior.”
He explained that BOEM didn’t hold the event closer to the coast because the state capital is inland.
“There will be a proposed program within the year. The best thing to do is present information. Fundamentally, oil and gas development or any other kind of energy development is not risk-free. But Congress knew that when it passed the mandate for us to have these meetings. We do depend on oil and gas from offshore. The last assessment I saw was that 18 percent was produced in the United States. People drive cars. BOEM is deeply involved in wind development offshore, too, and we’re excited about that. But you can’t change an economy overnight.”
A 42-gallon barrel of crude oil yields about 45 gallons of petroleum products. Of that, the U.S. uses about 18 gallons for gasoline and 11 gallons for diesel fuel, making transportation the biggest oil need.
Brown was sure to point out that he understands climate change is, in fact, real and caused by human actions, whereas President Trump, who is pushing to extract more fossil fuels, has stated that he does not believe Earth’s climate is warming and the idea is a hoax propagated by the Chinese.
“I think there’s no reasonable doubt that greenhouse gas emissions from people are warming up the Earth and causing climate change. BOEM includes analysis of impacts of climate change in our documents.”
Stopping oil drilling off our coasts has long been a bipartisan issue in New Jersey. Next Monday, Feb. 26, Republican Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes all of LBI, will join Cape May County officials, business leaders and environmental groups against the current proposal. Republican Tom MacArthur, of the 3rd Congressional District (Waretown, Barnegat and part of Stafford), is also against it.
“We killed the drill in the past,” said Menendez. “We’re going to kill it again. We know what it means to our coastline. If you’re going to drill, you’re going to spill. And we cannot afford a spill on our beautiful coastline. We cannot afford the damage that would come to our fishing opportunities. We cannot create a damage to our property values. We cannot create a damage to the legacy that every New Jerseyan and people from across the country have created, coming to the Jersey Shore as part of our birthright and have a clean ocean which we enjoy.
“We invited Secretary Zinke to come to New Jersey. We wanted him to come to the shore. And we wanted him to have a real hearing.”
We guess that for our current ex-Navy Seal, Secretary Of The Interior facing the opposition and hearing the concerns of those who’s who’s lives, and lively hoods, could be drastically and negatively impacted by the dark side of offshore drilling, was just a bridge to far.
ESM / www.easternsurf.com thanks Jon Coen and the Surf City, NJ, Based publication based The SandPaper @the sandpaper.net for their help in getting this report out to our readers and all concerned citizens regarding offshore drilling