BERKELEY-Berkeley Township has officially opposed the federal government’s plan for possible off-shore drilling along the New Jersey coast.
“Berkeley Township stands united with other coastal towns in opposition,” Amato said. “Our summer tourism industry in Ocean County generates a billion dollars a year in our local economy.”
Amato said the tourism industry provides thousands of employment opportunities for residents of Berkeley and surrounding communities.
“The negative impact far outweighs any positives,” he added. “We’re hopeful Secretary Zinke will grant an exemption to New Jersey as it was granted for Florida.”
Amato said the effort is a unilateral effort to oppose that includes full support of the county’s Board of Chosen Freeholders.
“I want to thank the Ocean County Board Of Chosen Freeholders for staunchly opposing offshore drilling as well,” he added. “Lastly, I want to thank Helen Henderson from the American Littoral Society for providing assistance to the Township with the crafting of this important Resolution and their leadership in protecting our natural resources.”
A copy of the resolution passed by the council and approved by Mayor Carmen Amato:
WHEREAS, on January 8, 2018, the Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced in the Federal Register notice the release of their Draft Proposed Program (DPP) for the 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. BOEM is requesting public comment on the DPP as well as formal scoping for a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the 2019-2024 Program; and
WHEREAS, Berkeley Township hereby acknowledges that the residents of Berkeley Township desire a healthy, thriving, and sustainable future for themselves, future generations, and our ocean; and
WHEREAS, this new draft proposed oil and gas leasing plan includes the entire Atlantic Ocean from Maine to Florida, including the waters off New Jersey within 3 miles of public beaches, as well as including other ocean areas totaling some 90% of US ocean waters; and
WHEREAS, New Jersey boasts over 127 miles of beautiful ocean coastline and hundreds of miles of back-bays, estuaries, and other waterways connected to the Atlantic Ocean; and
WHEREAS, the Jersey Shore is essential to the health of our communities, environment and the thriving economy of New Jersey; and
WHEREAS, the physical, hydrodynamic, and biological characteristics of the ocean off the Jersey Shore are unique in the world, as more than 300 species of fish, nearly 350 species of birds, 5 species of sea turtles, and many marine mammals such as 20 species of whales and dolphins, 1 species of porpoise, and 4 species of seals, frequent this region. Nine endangered species, four of which are whales, can be found in these ocean waters, including the Atlantic Right Whale, one of the world’s most endangered marine mammals. The region also serves as an essential migratory pathway for many of these species; and
WHEREAS, the Jersey Shore sustains the economy of the region with its bounty of natural resources and intrinsic values for millions of people through tourism, which brings more than $32 billion to NJ’s economy each year and provides jobs to more than 500,000 people; and
WHEREAS, recreational and commercial fisheries in NJ provide enormous economic benefits, including revenue, food production, and recreational activities. In 2014, recreational fishing supported nearly 20,000 jobs and resulted in $2 billion of retail sales. Commercial fishing supports nearly 7,300 jobs and provides $152 million in landings, not including restaurant and retail sales; and
WHEREAS, current estimates of the amount of technically recoverable oil off the entire Atlantic coast from Maine to Florida would only last the nation approximately 229 days, and the amount of technically recoverable gas would only last approximately 562 days; and
WHEREAS, offshore oil and gas development, causes substantial environmental impacts, including: (a) onshore damage due to infrastructure, (b) water pollution from drilling muds and the water brought-up from a well with oil and gas (called “produced waters”), (c) noise from seismic surveys, (d) air pollution, and (e) oil spills; and
WHEREAS, the harmful environmental consequences of offshore oil and gas exploration and development are serious and threatens the environmental and economic assets of New Jersey; and
WHEREAS, The BP Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico (2010) is clear evidence of the dangers associated with offshore drilling, including costing the lives of 11 people, devastating coastal economies and countless livelihoods, and killing countless marine animals, as well as continuing to cause harm to marine life as documented by a steady flow of studies; and
WHEREAS, Federal Administration officials are also weakening protections of ocean resources by undermining rules and regulations, cutting funding sources for spill response; and
WHEREAS, oil spills travel vast distances, and the Gulf Stream and Labrador Ocean Current all flow toward New Jersey making the region vulnerable to impacts from spills anywhere in the Atlantic Ocean; and
WHEREAS, within 5 days of the release of the DPP Governor Scott from Florida was able to convince Department of Interior Secretary Zinke to remove Florida from further consideration for drilling due to the importance of coastal tourism to that state and NJ shares this same economic dependence on tourism and clean ocean economies; and
WHEREAS, bi-partisan opposition against drilling off the New Jersey coast has included every Governor since 1985, and a majority of the congressional delegation and most coastal towns; and
WHEREAS, in the January 8, 2018, BOEM Federal Register to requests comments on the Draft Proposed Program (DPP) and scoping comments for the Programmatic Environmental Impact Study; and
WHEREAS, energy conservation and efficiency measures can significantly reduce the nation’s need to explore and drill for nonrenewable resources, such as oil and natural gas; and
WHEREAS, coastal municipalities have a profound interest in maintaining strong federal protections for our nation’s coastal environment, as well as the economic and social benefits it supports;
WHEREAS, as elected representatives of Berkeley Township, we have a significant responsibility to provide leadership which will seek to protect our coastal economy and a healthy ocean to strengthen our New Jersey coast and ocean:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that on this 22nd day of January 2018, the Township of Berkeley, County of Ocean, State of New Jersey hereby opposes offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling activities that would affect the coast of New Jersey, and calls upon Secretary of the Interior Ryan K. Zinke who oversees the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to withdraw New Jersey and the entire Atlantic Ocean from consideration for the offshore oil and gas exploration, development, or drilling.
Photo byn oil drilling platform off the coast of Santa Barbara, CA - 6 December, 2011