Press Releases

Washington – Senator Dianne Feinstein joined a bill sponsored by Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and 14 other Senate cosponsors today titled the Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism (COAST) Anti-Drilling Act that would ban offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean.  Last Friday, President Trump signed an executive order that takes the first steps towards allowing offshore oil and gas drilling along the East Coast.

“California knows what it’s like to suffer through a disastrous oil spill, and I wouldn’t wish that on any state,” said Sen. Feinstein. “The Atlantic coast deserves the same protections we are pushing for in the Pacific. Opening new waters to drilling is risky and unnecessary. We ought to stay focused on finding new opportunities for clean energy."

“Sandy was a natural disaster that devastated New Jersey.  The last thing we need is a man-made disaster in the form of an offshore oil spill,” said Sen. Menendez. “The COAST Anti-Drilling Act doesn’t merely aim to preserve the current five-year offshore drilling ban; it stops the Atlantic from ever ending up in any plan.  It draws a line in the sand—a line that we must never let Big Oil cross.”

COAST prohibits the U.S. Department of Interior from issuing leases for the exploration, development, or production of oil or gas in the North, Mid-, or South Atlantic Ocean or the Straits of Florida.  This commonsense, anti-pollution legislation would prevent short- and long-term marine and coastal damages, and protect and preserve shore economies.

The bill is also cosponsored by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).

"An oil spill in the Atlantic Ocean would severely harm the environment and damage our coastal economies, especially the thousands of small businesses that line the Jersey Shore,” said Sen. Booker.  “We can’t afford to sit idly by while our ocean and coastal region is exposed to this risk.  Our bill, which bans offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic region, seeks to prevent an oil-related disaster in New Jersey and our neighboring states."

“The only thing this order accomplishes is making a spectacle of putting dirty fossil fuel interests over the fishing, tourism, and other job-creating industries that rely on our oceans,” said Sen. Whitehouse.  “There has never been commercial oil and gas production along the Northeast’s Atlantic coast and there never should be.  If this administration tries, we will fight them tooth and nail.  Along our southern Atlantic coast, even red state communities rose up against the Obama administration when it tried to green-light drilling; they are sure to do the same to President Trump.  Our coastline and special places are too valuable – in Rhode Island and across America – to be sacrificed to fossil fuel company avarice.”

“Under the guise of economic security, President Trump has opened the door to dangerous drilling off the Atlantic Coast. He is misguided; the economic viability and environmental health of the region will be devastated,” said Sen. Cardin.  “Oil spills and the damage associated with seismic exploration do not respect state boundaries, making drilling anywhere on the Atlantic Coast a threat everywhere on the Atlantic Coast. We need to end this folly once and for all.”

"As we saw during the BP disaster, offshore oil spills don’t respect state boundaries,” said Sen. Markey.  “Allowing drilling anywhere off the East Coast could lead to a spill that could affect Massachusetts or New England. That is why it is essential that we permanently protect our Atlantic waters from offshore oil drilling to protect our beaches and coastlines, our fishing and tourism industries and our planet. I thank Senator Menendez for his leadership in introducing this legislation to protect our coast."

“Drilling off Florida’s Atlantic coast would be unwise and impractical,” Sen. Nelson said. “It would interfere with military operations off of Jacksonville and rocket launches from Kennedy Space Center and Patrick Air Force base, not to mention the environmental hazards it would pose.”

“Our message is simple: Kill the drill and prevent oil spills along East Coast beaches.  We do not want offshore drilling along the Atlantic coast because it could harm our economy and environment.  This legislation will help protect Rhode Island beaches and coastal communities,” said Sen. Reed.

“Maryland’s coastline and waters belong to the people, not Big Oil,” said Sen. Van Hollen.  “We must protect our beaches and wildlife – and the jobs and livelihoods they support – from President Trump’s effort to allow drilling offshore.  We need to urgently develop clean sources of energy; the last thing we need is an oil spill disaster that will destroy Ocean City, as well as our fishing and boating industries.”

“The Long Island Sound is a beautiful treasure integral to Connecticut’s history, identity, and economy. We want to see our coastline brimming with swimmers and fisherman—not giant, polluting oil rigs. In the face of efforts by President Trump to benefit Big Oil, this measure would protect waterways like the Sound for future generations,” Sen. Blumenthal said. 

“Our country needs better investment in clean energy infrastructure to grow our economy -- not giveaways to Big Oil that put coastal communities at risk of devastating oil spills,” said Sen. Warren. “This bill takes strong action to protect our environment and local economy in Massachusetts.”

“We have seen the real danger that offshore drilling can have on our coastal regions and economy, and this common-sense legislation would stop President Trump from allowing offshore oil and gas drilling along the East Coast,” said Sen. Hassan. “Unfortunately, this administration is continuing to side with big oil at the expense of our beautiful natural resources and the many people whose livelihoods depend on them. In New Hampshire, we know that our natural resources are critical to our businesses, our economy, and our way of life. I will continue fighting to combat climate change and protect our environment while building a cleaner, more affordable energy future.”

The economic and environmental devastation caused by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy far exceeded what many believed would be the worst-case scenario for an offshore oil accident.  More than seven years later, the Gulf Coast still hasn’t fully recovered from its catastrophic impact.  Offshore drilling would threaten New Jersey, New York and other Atlantic Coast states that are still recovering from Superstorm Sandy and devastation caused by other coastal storms with a manmade disaster from an oil spill.

Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) is the chief sponsor of companion legislation he is reintroducing today in the House of Representatives with 13 original co-sponsors.