Outgoing Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has teamed up with notable Democrats from his state to protest Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s plan to open the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) for offshore oil and gas exploration, CNN reports.
Christie joined governor-elect Phil Murphy and Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, all Democrats, in sending a letter to Zinke concerning New Jersey’s place in the upcoming OCS plan.
“We write in regard to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program,” the letter states. “We write in strong opposition to any proposal that includes oil and gas drilling off the coast of New Jersey, which puts at risk the strength of New Jersey’s economy and the health of the state’s unique marine ecosystem.”
After meeting with Florida GOP Gov. Rick Scott last week, Zinke announced that he would remove Florida’s waters off the final OCS plan. Scott requested the exemption, afraid of the potential effects offshore drilling may have on his state’s tourism industry. The bipartisan New Jersey group have requested an exemption for their state based on similar reasoning, citing threats to New Jersey’s entire coastal economy.
“Each year our state’s coastal economy generates millions of dollars in revenue, and provides hundreds of thousands of jobs in industries that depend on protecting New Jersey’s picturesque beaches and coastal environment,” the letter reads.
Zinke has promised to personally meet with every governor who opposes the OCS offshore leasing program.
Zinke’s OCS plan, announced Jan. 4, originally opened 90 percent of the OCS to oil and gas exploration. The OCS includes area off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Arctic around Alaska.
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