What to Know
More than a dozen of environmental groups held a rally Wednesday on the Asbury Park boardwalk in opposition to offshore drilling
The groups called on the federal government to oppose Trump’s plan, saying the risk of an oil spill could devastate New Jersey's economy
The gathering was one of similar events that have taken place around the country since the plan was announced on Jan. 4
More than a dozen of New Jersey’s leading environmental groups held a rally Wednesday on the Asbury Park boardwalk in opposition to President Donald Trump’s plan to allow oil and natural gas drilling off most of the country’s coastline.
The groups called on the federal government to oppose Trump’s plan, saying the risk of a catastrophic oil spill is real and could devastate New Jersey’s $44 billion tourism economy, which centers on its beaches.
The gathering was one of similar events that have taken place around the country since the plan was announced on Jan. 4. Elected officials from both parties have opposed the plan.
"What Trump did was target the oceans from one end of the country to the other," Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said. "We are going to send a very clear message to the fossil fool in the White House: hands off our beaches."
Samantha Kreisler of the NY/NJ Baykeeper group said, “the Trump administration has blatantly disregarded the voices of the public and elected officials from both parties who have clearly opposed offshore drilling since day one.”
Tim Dillingham, executive director of the American Littoral Society, said he was angry.
"What does it take for the federal government to understand that the people of New Jersey want a clean, wild, pristine ocean? Once again, we have to tell the federal government 'Keep your hands off our ocean,'" Dillingham said.
However, many business and energy groups support the plan, saying it will enable the United States to be less dependent on foreign energy.
The U.S. Interior Department says opening up offshore areas to drilling can help America achieve "energy dominance" and will enable the country to better compete with other oil-rich nations.
Vincent DeVito, a counselor for energy policy at the U.S. Department of the Interior, said that by opening up nearly the entire offshore for potential oil and gas exploration, “the United States can advance the goal of moving from aspiring for energy independence to attaining energy dominance.”
The groups held the rally because a public meeting scheduled for Feb. 14 near Trenton does not allow for public testimony, instead it is asking people to submit their comments online.
The Interior department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is holding meetings around the country, including one on Feb. 14 outside of Trenton, to answer questions about Trump’s plan. The meetings will not include public testimony. Instead, those wishing to comment must submit written testimony online or hand-deliver written copies to officials at the meetings.
The rally was in response to the meetings and their lack of public testimony.