LONG BRANCH, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Trump Administration has announced plans to allow drilling in coastal areas and New Jersey fears 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.
Incoming Gov. Phil Murphy, who made opposing many of President Donald Trump’s policies a cornerstone of his campaign, pledged Friday to help lead opposition to the president’s plan to open nearly the entire U.S. coastlines to drilling.
The Trump administration moved Thursday to vastly expand offshore drilling from the Atlantic to the Arctic oceans. The new five-year drilling plan could open new areas of oil and gas exploration in areas off the East Coast from Florida to Maine, where drilling has been blocked for decades.
Pointing to the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Murphy said the plan is “nothing less than dropping a ticking time bomb off our cost.”
Environmentalists pledged at a Long Branch news conference to rally groups across the country to fight the plan.
“What’s happening here is a dream scenario for Big Oil and a nightmare for our shore communities,” Sen. Bob Menendez said.
“We are not going to accept it because this is our life, this is our soul, this is what we’re all about at the Jersey shore,” said Congressman Frank Pallone.
Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Sierra Club said they filed a lawsuit against the Interior Department and the Trump Administration to stop the proposal.
“Basically the only oil we ever want to see on the beach here in New Jersey is suntan oil,” Tittel said.
The incoming governor’s wife, Tammy, said the damage from an oil spill would be far worse than the $1 billion hit New Jersey’s beaches took from the medical waste episodes.
“I can’t imagine the devastation that would happen here,” said Tim McLoone who owns five restaurants at the Jersey shore. “It was bad enough back in the 80s when there were syringes on the beaches.”
“Tourism is the life blood of New Jersey’s economy,” said Cindy Zipf of Clean Ocean Action. “We’ve come so far from being the ocean dumping capital of the world to being a premier destination internationally.”
Tourism is a $44 billion industry in New Jersey.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)