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NJ Senators Denounce Offshore Drilling Plan

Menendez, Lautenberg slam Interior Department proposal to drill less than 100 miles from the New Jersey coast

WASHINGTON, April 30, 2007 - United States Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), who have introduced legislation to ban drilling off of much of the East Coast, today slammed the Interior Department over its announced five year plan that would include drilling off the coast of Virginia. The drilling would occur less than 100 miles from the New Jersey coast - close enough for spills to affect New Jersey beaches - and could be the first step towards further drilling in the Atlantic.

"This administration has proposed one reckless drilling plan after another that threatens our environment and risks harm to New Jersey's economy," said Menendez. "The Interior Department's proposal poses dangers to our shore and economy in the short term, and it also starts us down a slippery slope that could lead to drilling off of New Jersey's coast. This is unacceptable, and I pledge to do everything in my power to ensure that their plan does not become reality. Instead, we need real energy reform that focuses on renewable energy to strengthen and protect the United States long into the future without causing irreparable damage to our environment."

"Allowing drilling off the coast of Virginia puts New Jersey's shores and wildlife at risk of contamination from oil spills and leakage. We need to address the long-term problem of fuel production by investing in new, alternative fuels, rather than helping oil companies and endangering our public land, wildlife and health. America should be investing in alternative fuels, not looking for more places to drill off our coast," said Lautenberg.

According to the New Jersey Commerce and Economic Growth Commission, tourism in the Garden State generates more than $26 billion in economic activity and supports more than 430,000 jobs - ten percent of the state's workforce. In January, the Senators introduced The Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism Anti-Drilling Act, or COAST Anti-Drilling Act, which would protect New Jersey's beaches, and the tourism industry it supports, by permanently banning oil and gas drilling off the Mid-Atlantic and Northern Atlantic coast.

In a letter to Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne last year, Menendez, Lautenberg, and Congressmen Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Jim Saxton (R-NJ), and Chris Smith (R-NJ) stressed their opposition to the Minerals Management Service's plan to conduct lease sales in the Mid-Atlantic planning region off the coast of Virginia, and urged public hearings in New Jersey on the matter. To view that letter, visit http://menendez.senate.gov/pdf/LettertoKempthorne9-7-06.pdf.

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