An oil drilling platform off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Governor signs bill prohibiting offshore drilling and infrastructure in New York waters

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today signed legislation aimed at fighting back against the federal government’s plan to radically expand offshore drilling in U.S. coastal waters.

Cuomo signed a bill passed by the state legislature in February in response to the Trump administration’s proposal to open U.S. coastal areas to oil and natural gas exploration and drilling.

The legislation bans offshore drilling in New York State coastal waters, bars the state from granting permits for drilling and exploration in offshore areas controlled by the state and prevents state agencies from authorizing leases that would increase oil or natural gas production in federal waters. It also prohibits the development of infrastructure associated with exploration, development or production of oil or natural gas from New York’s coastal waters.

“This bill says no way are you going to drill off the coast of Long Island and New York,” Cuomo told a crowd gathered for the signing ceremony today at the Jones Beach amphitheater in Wantaugh.

“Today is about making sure Jones Beach and all of the coastal communities are here for our children and for the next generation,” the governor said.

President Donald Trump in 2017 issued the “America-First Offshore Energy Strategy” as the first step toward opening previously protected parts of the Outer Continental Shelf to oil and gas exploration. The proposal sparked an almost universal outcry from elected officials across Long Island, environmental advocates, commercial fishermen and representatives of the coastal-dependent tourism industry.

“There has been near-unanimous condemnation of the federal government’s proposal to open up our waters to drilling for oil and gas,” said Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), chairperson of the Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee, and sponsor of the bill signed today by the governor.

“This legislation takes aggressive action to protect New York’s environment by prohibiting offshore drilling. This law will protect and defend our waters; keeping them safe for recreation, fishing and wildlife,” Englebright said. “At the same time, this action will protect the value of our homes and the natural resources which make Long Island a tourist destination.”

“The message is loud and clear,” said Brian Langloss, New York campaign organizer for Oceana, the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. “New York won’t jeopardize our coastal economies and vibrant fisheries with the risk of a dirty oil spill,” he said

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