Exclusive: Murphy 1 of 5 govs to sign letter to Ryan, Pelosi urging Congress to oppose offshore drilling rollback

Gov. Phil Murphy is continuing his push against offshore drilling with a letter to Congress sent Wednesday, also signed by the governors of Connecticut, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Virginia.

The letter, obtained by ROI-NJ, is addressed to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and U.S. Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), and urges them to oppose the Enhancing State Management of Federal Lands and Waters Act.

“Despite its name, this bill does not enhance state management of offshore waters, it eliminates it,” the letter said. “Under the guise of providing an option to states, this legislation would impose a hefty cost on states that choose to exercise jurisdiction over their shorelines.”

The act would lift a ban on offshore drilling for oil and natural gas that was imposed by President Barack Obama’s administration and would open up waters off of California and along the Eastern Seaboard for such drilling.

In April, New Jersey garnered attention for leading the charge among the East Coast states to pass a bill to ban offshore drilling, prohibiting oil exploration or the construction of infrastructure to deliver oil and natural gas in state waters.

New Jersey also has recently entered the markets for offshore wind in federal and state waters.

“Virtually every state along the Atlantic Coast has opposed this strategy, and all the undersigned governors have registered their objections with the Interior Department,” the letter said. “No cost should be imposed on a state that wishes to prevent irreparable damage to its coasts, yet this legislation anticipates imposing a price that would be many times the Interior Department’s own valuation of an offshore lease area.”

The letter was signed June 13 by Govs. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, Dan Malloy of Connecticut, Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, and Ralph Northam of Virginia. All are Democrats, like Murphy.

There is a House subcommittee hearing on the act scheduled for Thursday.