By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
Elected officials and environmental leaders gathered in the cold rain and wind on the Bradley Beach boardwalk Saturday to express their collective disdain for the idea of offshore drilling at the seventh annual Hands Across the Sand Event.
Congressman Chris Smith and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. both attended the event highlighting the bi-partisan support for prohibiting off shore drilling.
“Seldom has any issue united the people of NJ, the congressional delegation, the State Legislature, and local public officials as our position on offshore oil has,” Smith said.
“I am proud to stand with so many dedicated citizens joining together to protect our beaches. While ‘Hands Across the Sand’ is always an important moment for our communities, this year is especially meaningful as New Jersey confronts dangerous and reckless plans to drill off our shores,” Pallone said.
New Jersey elected leaders across the state, at all levels of government, from both parties have strongly opposed oil drilling off of NJ for years said Bradley Beach Councilman John Weber.
Pallone, who attended with his daughter Celeste, said the entire Atlantic Ocean has to be off limits to oil companies wanting to drill.
“We will have success. We are on the right side of this legally,” he said.
Pallone said the work of the environmentalists at the event had “rubbed off” on his daughter who is majoring in environmental science in college.
Sen. Robert Singer spoke thanking his fellow legislators for their unity and dedication to preserving New Jersey’s “pristine shore line.”
He recalled the days when hypodermic needles were washing up on the Jersey shores.
“It can be devastating. The quality of life in New Jersey is based around our shore. I’ve made a commitment that this doesn’t happen and I feel confident that it’s not going to happen,” he said. “Be vigilant, because if you turn your back….”
Assemblywoman Joann Downey said state beaches are a $4 billion industry. She also said we have to make sure we have clean water for our families.
She also thanked Governor Phil Murphy for his dedication to the issue.
“We’ll fight it, this is New Jersey,” she said.
Cindy Zipf, leader of Clean Ocean Action declared, “We are going to be successful.”
She thanked all who came out for their dedication and said the entire New Jersey Delegation is a model for all states to follow.
“They are going to make it impossible for any oil company to drill here. We will let them know the unwelcome mat is out here,” she said. “There is only one ocean from Florida to Maine.
The only thing that will stop this is we the people.”
Speakers also agreed that the prohibition for drilling oil should extend from Florida to Maine, with Jeff Tittel, Senior Chapter Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club saying the ban should go around the Florida peninsula, along the Gulf coast and up the Pacific shoreline all the way to Seattle.
Tittel said despite the harsh weather it was a beautiful day at the shore.
“Everyday without drilling is a beautiful day,” he said.
He also injected humor into the event calling politicians in Washington “fossil fools” with present company excluded.
“We want people to come down the shore and enjoy their linguine with clam sauce that does not taste like Quaker oil,” he said.
One Surfrider Foundation showed her commitment by riding her bicycle to the event from Asbury Park in the pouring rain.
“We should be exploring clean energy, why are we exploring dirty energy?” she asked.