LoBiondo wants public hearing on Atlantic Ocean drilling proposal

Published Thursday, January 11, 2018

U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo wants the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to hold a public hearing in Cape May County on a recently released proposal to allow oil and natural gas exploration in the Atlantic Ocean.

Drilling in the Atlantic has been banned for decades.

In a letter to BOEM, LoBiondo, a longtime staunch opponent of drilling off the New Jersey coastline, said the proposal “poses serious economic and environmental risks to the marine wildlife and fish populations that our commercial fishermen rely upon for their livelihood, and pristine state beaches that support our tourism industry.”

The fishing and tourism industries together bring in about $45 billion per year, he said.

Last week, the Trump administration announced a plan to open offshore drilling in the Atlantic from Florida to Maine, as well as off California and in the Arctic.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie and LoBiondo, R-2nd, each issued statements in strong opposition to the plan, as did many Democrats, such as U.S. Sen. Cory Booker.

On Tuesday, the administration said it would not allow oil drilling off Florida, abruptly reversing course under pressure from Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

The administration said Scott had convinced them Florida’s coastal tourism industry was singularly important to the state, needing special protection from the possibility of an oil spill.

Critics have accused Trump of favoring the state where he owns the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach and questioned why Florida’s tourism industry is deemed more important than those of other states.

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