Officials Rail Against Offshore Drilling in Belmar

By Michael Hill

Members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation used their trip to the shore to help Belmar celebrate the re-opening of the Taylor Pavilion — rebuilt on the Sandy-destroyed boardwalk with federal money.

They and Belmar’s mayor also took advantage of this seaside resort to blast the Trump administration’s plan for seismic blasting to pave the way for oil drilling and exploration in the Atlantic Ocean.

“Please leave the oceans alone. Let them be,” said Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty.

Last Friday, Donald Trump inked another executive order.

“And direct Secretary Zinke to allow responsible development of offshore areas that will bring revenue to our Treasury and jobs to our workers,” Trump said.

“Our coastline is not for sale,” said Sen. Bob Menendez.

“We must now say no to the drilling,” said Sen. Cory Booker.

Booker and Menendez and Congressman Frank Pallone announced they would re-introduce the Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism Anti-Drilling Act.

“It stops the Atlantic from ever ending up in any plan. It draws a line in the sand. A line that we must never let Big Oil cross,” Menendez said.

The members of Congress say drilling and a spill would devastate New Jersey’s multi-billion dollar tourism and fishing industries.

“Ask those in the Gulf Coast — in Alabama, in Mississippi, in Louisiana — about what happens when oil drilling happens off of their coasts,” Booker said.

The senators thought this was a battle that had been fought and won in the Obama administration just last year. Getting the Interior Department to remove the Atlantic Ocean from the five-year plan for oil and gas leasing in the outer continental shelf.

“Now, I’m no mathematician, but I never expected we would revisiting the five-year plan six months later. Yet here we are,” Menendez said.

The congressman says Republicans blocked protections drawn up after the BP Horizon spill.

“There’s no protection. There can’t even be any protection. We know that. That’s what BP actually proved,” Pallone said.

Activists — armed with placards and protests of the Trump plan — stood with the members of Congress, arguing the nation should find energy elsewhere.

“Going on a pathway of fossil fuels is a pathway to the dinosaurs and we know they went extinct,” said Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action.

The delegation says it’s not fishing for a fight with the new administration but the oil drilling executive order goes against the current from the previous administration.