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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 27, 2010

Contact: Lawrence Ragonese (609) 292-2994

DEP TESTIFIES AGAINST OFF-SHORE DRILLING

(10/P29) TRENTON -Assistant Commissioner of Climate and Environmental Management Nancy Wittenberg today told a federal panel that oil and gas explorations off the coast of New Jersey would hurt the state’s environment and economy.

Testifying before the U.S. Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service at a hearing in Newark, Wittenberg reiterated opposition to drilling previously stated by Gov. Chris Christie and DEP Commissioner Bob Martin.

“The benefits of New Jersey’s coast are numerous, ranging from recreation to environmental diversity to economics,’’ said Wittenberg.

“Our coast and the ocean are a magnet for tourism and provide bountiful opportunities for recreational and commercial fishing. The coast is home to countless species. New Jersey has a long history of fighting to protect this tremendous resource. Our objections to offshore drilling and all activities associated with drilling have been unwavering.’’

New Jersey objects to any activities that will provide opportunity for leasing in the North and Mid Atlantic planning areas, said Wittenberg.

Governor Christie and Commissioner Martin have made it clear they will continue New Jersey’s long-standing opposition to drilling off the coast of New Jersey.

“New Jersey's coastline is one of our economic engines and I would have to be really convinced of both the economic viability and environmental safety of oil and gas exploration off our coast. At this point, I'm not convinced of either,'' said Gov. Christie.

Commissioner Martin added: "New Jersey strongly opposes any drilling off the East Coast of the U.S. that could potentially impact New Jersey waters and beaches"

The state clearly will suffer negative impacts of exploration, investigation and drilling off the coast, Wittenberg told the federal panel, which is considering President Obama’s proposal to open the Atlantic Ocean for oil drilling from Virginia to northern Delaware.

Concerns begin with the impact of the geological and geophysical exploration activities being discussed today, said Wittenberg. These concerns are both immediate and long term. We object to any explorative activities that will potentially impact the marine environment but more importantly are opposed to beginning a process, which could ultimately lead to offshore drilling.

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