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

April 30, 2019

Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) announced that Governor Cuomo signed his legislation (A.2572 Englebright/S.2316 Kaminsky) to prohibit oil and natural gas drilling in New York coastal areas.

This important legislation would

  • prohibit the use of state-owned underwater coastal lands for oil and natural gas drilling;
  • prevent state agencies from authorizing leases that would facilitate the development and production of oil or natural gas; and
  • prohibit the development of pipelines and other infrastructure associated with exploration, development, or production of oil or natural gas from New York's coastal waters.

"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 Englebright. “This legislation takes aggressive action to protect New York's marine environment by prohibiting offshore drilling. This law will protect and defend our waters; keeping them safe for recreation, fishing and wildlife. I want to thank my Senate Sponsor Todd Kaminsky and commend Governor Cuomo for signing this legislation into law."

In 2017, the federal government proposed a new National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program which would open more than 90 percent of our nation's offshore waters to oil and gas drilling.

However, 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 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.

New York is the number three ocean economy in the nation with nearly 320,000 jobs and billions of dollars generated through tourism and fishing industries. Overall, New York's ocean economy generates $11 billion in wages and contributes $23 billion in gross domestic product. Long Island and the New York Harbor are home to 11.4 million people, with 60 percent of the State's population living along nearly 2,000 miles of tidal coastline.

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

On April 26, 2019 the Interior Department put a paused hold on its plan to open U.S. coastline to drilling until after 2020. The reason given was uncertainty arising from a recent court ruling by a federal judge in Alaska who found that President Trump exceeded his authority when he reversed the bans on offshore drilling in vast areas of the Arctic Ocean and in the North Atlantic.

Despite uncertainty about whether the administration's drilling plan will go forward, New York and other coastal states are maintaining pressure in opposition. Several other state legislatures have taken legislative action to block the proposed expansion of federal oil and gas leasing off their shores. Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and South Carolina have introduced bills or resolutions aimed at preventing offshore drilling on their coastal waters. California, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Oregon have successfully enacted laws.