Smith689 copy

WASHINGTON — Don’t expect to see oil rigs off the Jersey Shore.

That was the message the state’s Republican lawmakers walked away with following a meeting Tuesday with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

“If it’s not off the table, it will soon be off the table,” said Rep. Chris Smith, R-4th Dist., one of four GOP representatives from the state who joined other Atlantic Coast lawmakers and Zinke at the U.S. Capitol.

President Donald Trump, overturning a five-year plan that excluded the Atlantic Coast until at least 2022, proposed opening almost the entire continental shelf to oil drilling…

Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd Dist., said Zinke acknowledged that the area off the coast off New Jersey met none of the criteria for opening the area to oil drilling.

“He said, ‘You don’t have any reserves, you don’t have any onshore infrastructure.,” LoBiondo said, “He said, ‘You’re not a prime candidate. You have unanimous bipartisan opposition to this. These are things we’re looking at carefully.'”

“There was nothing in what he said that led me to believe we would be seriously considered,” LoBiondo said…

“It’s crystal clear to the secretary that we don’t want offshore drilling and he’s going to have a fight on his hands if he tries to push it,” said Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-3rd Dist.

Lawmakers said the entire Atlantic coast could be placed off limits under the latest drilling plan.

Zinke already dropped Florida from the proposed drilling area, and all 14 federal lawmakers from the Garden State urged him in January to do the same to New Jersey for the same reasons…

“One spill could be disaster,” Smith said.

Until Zinke officially removes the Jersey Shore from the proposed five-year plan, LoBiondo said the campaign of opposition needs to continue.

“I don’t think we can let up,” he said. “I don’t think we can drop our guard.”

Excerpted & emphasis added. Read the original.