TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey’s incoming and outgoing governors and the state’s two U.S. senators joined forces Sunday in a bid to get the state withdrawn from the Trump administration’s plan to expand offshore drilling.
The request came in a letter sent to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. It was signed by Republican Gov. Chris Christie and three Democrats — Gov.-elect Phil Murphy and U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Bob Menendez.
The letter said the drilling proposal puts the state’s economy and its “unique marine ecosystem” at risk. Some New Jersey officials have said they fear the damage from an offshore oil spill would be much worse than the hit its tourism economy took from a spate of medical waste wash-ups in the 1980s.
Zinke recently agreed to a request by Florida’s Republican governor to withdraw from the drilling plan. Critics question why the same accommodation hasn’t been made to coastal states with Democratic governors, and some Republican governors are also seeking to have their states exempted from the proposed drilling expansion.
Tourism is a $44 billion industry in New Jersey, and its commercial fishing industry brings in $7.9 billion a year, supporting 50,000 jobs. The state’s tourism industry accounts for one out of 10 jobs in the state’s workforce, the four officials noted in their letter, and this industry has continued to grow year after year.
“You have said that your responsibility to evaluate our nation’s offshore oil and gas leasing plan will emphasize the consideration of local and state voices,” the letter stated. “We write to demonstrate that when it comes to protecting New Jersey’s coast, New Jersey speaks with one voice, united in opposition to allowing drilling off our shores.”