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New Jersey Really Isn't About That Offshore Drilling Life

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President Donald Trump wants offshore drilling in every corner of our federal waters, but that doesn’t include state waters. New Jersey, at least, is being proactive about protecting those.

The state Senate unanimously approved a bipartisan bill Monday that would ban all offshore drilling within three miles of the state’s coastline. All that’s left now is Gov. Phil Murphy’s signature, which is expected. He’s down with the environment and openly opposed Trump’s offshore drilling proposal.

Many other states, including New York and South Carolina, are also trying to avoid the extraction process off their shores. Florida’s the only one that’s seen success, and that’s because Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was trying to falsely portray Florida Gov. Rick Scott as an environmental steward for political gains, as POLITICO exposed.


“This is a backdoor way of blocking the offshore drilling that would be allowed by the federal action,” bill co-sponsor state Sen. Jeff Van Drew told Press of Atlantic City. “We will use that authority to try to hinder or block drilling along the Jersey coast, which is vital for the fishing industry.”

The fishing industry—and the people it employs, of course—are a big deal in New Jersey. The impact from sales alone amounted to nearly $8 billion in 2012, according to a NOAA report. The seafood industry supported more than 50,000 jobs then, too. Offshore drilling threatens that, so even Trump-supporting anglers in the state ain’t about it, as NPR reported.


This state-level move could have some impacts on the Trump administration’s federal plan. Though federal waters can reach farther than state waters—up to 200 nautical miles off the coast—energy companies sometimes need access to state waters close to shore. For example, infrastructure like pipelines or docking facilities near the coast would be a no-no if they’re on state waters.

The Shore Tourism and Ocean Protection (STOP) from Offshore Oil and Gas Act also prohibits the state’s Department of Environmental Protection from issuing permits related to offshore drilling. Oh, and it bans any leasing of tidal or submerged lands if the lease has anything to do with oil or natural gas.


Murphy’s office refused to comment to Earther on pending legislation, but the governor is almost definitely going to sign this. He’s already trying to hop back into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade agreement among some states in the Northeast. Murphy has also doubled down New Jersey’s support for the Clean Power Plan by removing it from a lawsuit against the environmental policy.

Murphy’s sure to have more surprises up his sleeve. This offshore drilling ban might be next.


[Press of Atlantic City]