Rep. Chris Smith Leads Delegation Letter Asking for Public Hearing on Offshore Drilling

 Rep. Smith speaking with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, pictured in the red tie. Rep. Tom MacArthur is in the background.  Submitted Photo

Members Send Transcript of Hamilton Public Hearing to Interior Secretary

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Dean of the New Jersey congressional delegation, led a letter signed by the entire New Jersey delegation to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke on Friday, reiterating their unified opposition to the Administration’s proposal to open waters off the state’s coast to oil and gas drilling and exploration.

In addition, the Members sent Secretary Zinke a transcript of a Feb. 14 public hearing in Hamilton, NJ where citizens organized the event and expressed their concerns about—and opposition to the Administration’s offshore drilling proposal.

“The Members of our New Jersey Congressional delegation are united in our opposition to this proposal, and the people of New Jersey have made their concerns about offshore drilling clear—they do not want oil rigs offshore and our pristine beaches and waters at risk from oil spills,” Smith stated.

“If we really support an energy policy that serves the public, state and local concerns about offshore drilling must be heard,” said Smith, who participated in the alternate forum hosted by the group Clean Ocean Action.

“The citizens of New Jersey stepped up and held their own public forum when the Department of the Interior failed to offer a proper venue. The transcript from that forum will now be part of the official comment period and the people’s opposition to the drilling proposal is clear and now on the record,” he said.

In the letter to Secretary Zinke, the Members expressed their strong opposition to the offshore drilling proposal and noted how they had invited the Interior Secretary to personally hear from concerned citizens in New Jersey.

“We have each unequivocally stated our disapproval,” the Members stated in the letter. “This has included joining together as a delegation in a January 9 letter asking you to reconsider the proposal, as well as a January 11 letter inviting you to visit New Jersey prior to the issuance of a finalized proposal and requesting that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) hold a public hearing, allowing participants to voice their concerns to BOEM officials.” [Click here to read the letter.]

Along with the letter, the transcript of the Feb. 14 Hamilton public hearing on the offshore drilling proposal was sent to Secretary Zinke.

“We believe that given the magnitude of this decision and the very real impact this would have on New Jersey’s coastal economy, environment, and wildlife, it is of paramount importance that the enclosed comments of New Jerseyans are considered,” Smith and the other Members stated of the hearing transcript.

Recently, Rep. Smith (NJ-04) and other Republican Members of the delegation including Reps. Tom Macarthur (NJ-03), Leonard Lance (NJ-07), and Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02), met with Secretary Zinke and stated their strong opposition to New Jersey’s inclusion in the Administration’s proposal to open over 90 percent of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf to oil and gas exploration and drilling, as part of the five-year plan for the National OCS Program.