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Report: NJ Senate passes bill to ban oil, gas drilling in state waters

A bill that would ban offshore oil and gas drilling in state waters off New Jersey was approved by the state's Senate, The Press of Atlantic City reported March 26.

"This is a back-door way of blocking the offshore drilling that would be allowed by the federal action," said co-sponsor Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic. "We control the first 3 miles at the state level, so we will use that authority to try to hinder or block drilling along the Jersey coast, which is vital for the fishing industry."

Along with the ban on state water drilling, the bill would also prohibit leasing of tidal or submerged lands in state waters that would be used for oil and natural gas production, exploration and development. The state's Department of Environmental Protection will also be prohibited from issuing permits and approvals for offshore drilling facility developments as part of the bill.

The Shore Tourism and Ocean Protection from Offshore Oil and Gas Act already passed the assembly and is headed for Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk. Murphy has expressed his opposition to offshore drilling in the Atlantic and is expected to sign the bill, the report said.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke earlier in the year called for a massive expansion of offshore areas open to oil and gas production and a record 47 lease sales starting in 2019 through 2024 as part of the Trump administration's overarching strategy to unleash U.S. energy resources.