Photo Courtesy of Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato’s Office
Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato and Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers President Dan Mundy discuss the future of the beloved bay.
By Forum Staff
The State Legislature has voted to approve a bill that would prohibit oil and natural gas drilling off of New York’s coast.
Both houses have passed the measure that would amend the Environmental Conservation Law § 23-1101 to prohibit the leasing of State-owned underwater coastal lands for oil and natural gas drilling and add a new section to prevent the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of General Services from authorizing leases that would result in the increase of oil or natural gas production from federal waters. In addition, the bill would amend the Transportation Corporations Law to restrict the powers of such corporations to develop pipelines associated with the delivery of natural gas or oil from the North Atlantic Planning Area.
The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Steven Englebright (D-Suffolk County), pointed out that “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 would remedy that oversight and prohibit the use of the State’s underwater lands for drilling. Such a prohibition is in keeping with New York’s coastal management practices, and also protects endangered and threatened species, such as the North Atlantic right whale, and the State’s recreational and commercial fishing industries. In addition, this legislation, based in part on legislation from California, would prohibit DEC and OGS from providing leases that would result in the increase of oil or natural gas production from federal waters.”
Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Howard Beach) noted on Tuesday that she was “proud to have voted Yes on this bill with my colleagues.”
“In order to protect our children, and all future generations, it’s crucial that we take steps NOW to protect our planet- especially the vital resources here in Rockaway and across the entire state,” Pheffer Amato added. “Passing this legislation takes a huge step towards a more sustainable future. Working to preserve our coastlines and all associated natural resources is essential to the long-term preservation and protection of our environment, economy, and our quality of life.”
Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers President Dan Mundy echoed the assemblywoman’s sentiment.
“Oil drilling operations are inherently dangerous and even more so in areas like the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Rockaway. Any type of accidental release during drilling operations would have devastating effects on the waters and coastal areas of Rockaway and Jamaica Bay,” Mundy said. “After years of hard work the waters off of our coast are now cleaner then they have been in decades and whales, dolphins and seals can regularly be seen cruising through these waters, It is not a time to allow ocean drilling to threaten the gains we have made.”
Rockaway Beach Civic Association President John Cori hailed the legislation for helping to “prevent Big Gas and Oil companies from laying miles of additional dangerous pipe lines just miles from where we live, work, and play.”