Assemblyman Englebright: Legislation Banning Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling in New York's Coastal Areas Passes Assembly

February 5, 2019

Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) announced the Assembly passage of legislation (A.2572, Englebright) to prohibit oil and natural gas drilling in New York's coastal areas.

"My colleagues and I held a hearing on Long Island last year and there was unanimous condemnation of the federal government's proposal to open up our waters to drilling for oil and gas," said Assemblymember Englebright.  "This legislation will safeguard our water and shores from the dangers of fossil fuel exploration and drilling, and will support our efforts to move our state towards cleaner and renewable energy sources."

This important legislation would prohibit the use of state-owned underwater coastal lands for oil and natural gas drilling, and would prevent the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of General Services from authorizing leases that would increase oil or natural gas production from federal waters. The bill would also prohibit the development of infrastructure associated with exploration, development, or production of oil or natural gas from New York's coastal waters.

Despite the many environmental disasters that have been caused by offshore drilling and the overwhelming scientific evidence linking the burning of fossil fuels to dangerous climate patterns, the administration in Washington continues to aggressively pursue fossil fuel exploration.  In 2017, President Trump issued an "America-First Offshore Energy Strategy" as the first step toward opening previously protected parts of the Outer Continental Shelf to oil and gas exploration.

Drilling off New York's Atlantic Coast has been off limits for decades, and as a result some of the state's laws regulating oil and natural gas drilling have not kept pace. This legislation remedies that oversight and reaffirms New York's coastal management practices to ensure the protection of endangered and threatened species, such as the North Atlantic Right Whale, as well as the state's tourism and recreational and commercial fishing industries.

"Our largest industry in New York, and especially in coastal New York, is tourism,” said Assemblymember Englebright.  “Oil and gas exploration is incompatible with tourism. We've seen the kinds of mistakes that have occurred in other parts of the world where oil and gas exploration near recreation areas and near active fisheries has occurred. We don't want those kinds of chaos to descend upon our economy or our state.”

The companion measure (S.2316, Kaminsky) is expected to pass the NY State Senate today.