Policy Update

Landmark Legislation: New Jersey Bans Offshore Drilling



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New Jersey Passes First Statewide Ban on Offshore Drilling

In response to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s proposal to open over 90% of the US coastline to offshore drilling, New Jersey passed Assembly Bill 839 to ban oil and gas exploration and drilling along its coastline. AB 839, titled the Shore Tourism and Ocean Protection from Offshore Oil and Gas Act, restricts the leasing of tidal or submerged lands in state waters up to 3 miles off of the coastline for offshore exploration, drilling, and development.

New Jersey’s ban is based on the importance of its coastline to its economy. The state relies on both its billion-dollar coastal tourism industry as well as its billion-dollar fishing industry. AB 839 describes how opening up New Jersey’s coastlines to offshore drilling would put both of these industries at risk. Due to these concerns, New Jersey became the first state to pass legislation opposing BOEM’s proposal, standing as a strong model for other coastal states seeking to protect their shorelines and economies.

AB 839 is the newest addition to the USC Schwarzenegger Institute and NCEL’s Digital Environmental Legislative Handbook.