WASHINGTON, DC – On Earth Day and the week of the five-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf Coast, U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jack Reed (D-RI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Edward Markey (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) introduced the Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism (COAST) Anti-Drilling Act. The legislation prohibits the U.S. Department of Interior from issuing leases for the exploration, development, or production of oil or gas in the North, Mid, or South Atlantic Ocean. Earlier this year, the Obama Administration announced plans to open parts of the Atlantic Ocean to offshore oil and gas drilling.
"Imagine the devastation an oil spill in the Atlantic would cause – not just to my home state of New Jersey, but to states up and down the East Coast,” said Sen. Menendez. “The Jersey Shore’s tourism industry alone generates $38 billion a year and directly supports almost half a million jobs. We’re introducing the COAST Act to help protect our local economies, marine life, the health of our shore residents and to tell Big Oil that America’s coastline is not for sale.”
“Offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean would open up the eastern seaboard to considerable risk, and we have seen the destruction that an accident can cause. This legislation is about more than simply protecting the environment, it’s also about protecting the tourism and fishing industries that create jobs and power the Rhode Island economy,” said Sen. Reed.
“Five years ago, the Deepwater Horizon disaster reminded the nation of the chilling economic and environmental dangers of offshore drilling,” Sen. Booker said. “Knowing full well what’s at stake, we cannot afford to stand idly by while our region is exposed to the same risk. Today, as we commemorate Earth Day, I am proud to stand with my colleagues to introduce a bill that would help protect the people and economy of the Jersey shore and the entire East Coast. We will not tolerate the potentially irreparable effects from drilling off the Atlantic coast.”
“Five years ago, the BP spill marred the Gulf Coast with millions of barrels of oil,” said Sen. Markey. “We shouldn’t put the Atlantic Coast in the crosshairs for another offshore oil spill, especially when the oil industry is pushing to export America’s oil abroad. Why should Americans on the East Coast put our shores at risk of a spill when the oil will just be sent overseas? It’s time to tell the oil companies something they aren’t used to hearing: no way.”
“Oil spills do not respect state boundaries, making the risks of drilling off the Atlantic Coast far greater than the rewards,” said Sen. Cardin. “We are still trying to clean up after the BP oil spill. The Chesapeake Bay, which generates more than $1 trillion in economic activity for the Mid-Atlantic region, does not need yet another threat to its future health and vitality.”
“Our coastal economies, from fishing to tourism to recreation, rely on clean and safe beaches and vibrant ocean habitats,” said Whitehouse. “Offshore drilling brings with it the risk of accidents that can be devastating to those resources, not just in the states directly offshore, but up and down the coast. On this Earth Day, I’m proud to support this important legislation to prevent drilling off our East Coast.”
Blumenthal said, “Long Island Sound is a precious, profoundly significant resource – highly susceptible to pollutants or toxins introduced elsewhere – clearly needing the protection afforded by this legislation. This measure would protect waterways like the Sound for future generations.”
Flanked by photos showing damages from the oil spill in Gulf Coast – as well as photos of the undamaged East Coast – the Senators explained they are introducing their commonsense anti-pollution legislation to prevent short- and long-term marine and coastal damages, and protect and preserve shore economies.
Companion legislation is also being introduced today in the House of Representatives by U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone (D NJ-06) with 13 co-sponsors.