Friday, February 16, 2018

United Voices Declare, “Not in Our Ocean, Not on Our Watch

Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 16, 2018
Contact:          Allison Meyerhoff, Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Clean Ocean Action, 732-872-0111,

Bi-Partisan NJ Elected Leaders, Hundreds of Concerned Citizens
Condemn Trumps Drilling Plan
United Voices Declare, “Not in Our Ocean, Not on Our Watch”
1st Time Virtual Connection through FaceTime Technology Links Governor and
DC Representatives to the Rally
Passionate Informative Inspiring Speeches by over 70 Citizens ages 2 - 80+

Photo by Kyle Gronostajski

Hamilton Township, NJ - Wednesday, February 14, hundreds of citizens representing NJ’s leading environmental, fishing, business, and public interest organizations, along with Jersey Shore advocates rallied and testified at a press conference and Citizen’s Hearing to reject President Trump’s offshore oil and gas plan which opens 90% of US ocean waters to within 3 miles of beaches.  The event coincided with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) Public Meeting held in an adjacent room.

Hundreds of Citizens turned out for the 2:30pm Press Conference
Citizens brought signs, cheered and spoke out showing “Ocean Emotion” on the Valentine’s Day event, packing the Anti-Offshore Oil Coalition’s Advocacy Room.  Kicking off the press conference was a host of NJ state legislators who were amplified by Governor Murphy, First Lady Tammy Murphy, US Senators Menendez and Booker, and US Representatives Pallone and Smith.  This was the first time FaceTime connected leaders to a real time ocean action rally in NJ.
Selected excerpts from Elected Officials and Citizens are below. 

Senator Linda R. Greenstein
“It’s Wrong for New Jersey, it’s wrong for the entire coast of the United States. People should have a say.” - Senator Linda R. Greenstein, 14th Legislative District, Assistant Majority Leader  

Assemblywoman Nancy J. Pinkin
“In New Jersey, almost all democrats and republicans are opposed to offshore drilling.”     
- Nancy J. Pinkin, Assemblywoman, Chair of the Assembly Environment Committee

Assemblywoman JoAnn Downey
“Besides killing our marine life, besides endangering different species of fish and hurting our tourism, we are not even looking at renewable energy resources which have to be the future and we have to do that because other countries are.”  - Assemblywoman JoAnn Downey, 11th District

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker

“I spent my whole career as a physicist working on alternative energy. It’s clear what you just heard. The future is in renewables. There is no future in fossil fuels and if we want to make America first not last, it is up to us. We need to become leaders in renewable energy and environmental protection.” - Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, Chair, Science, Innovation and Technology Committee

Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling

 “We have to let those in Washington know that we aren’t going to back down and let this happen.” - Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, 11th District

NJ Governor Phil Murphy via Facetime

Governor Phil Murphy, First Lady Tammy Murphy, Congressman Frank Pallone, Congressman Chris Smith, Senator Bob Menendez and Senator Cory Booker, who were unable to attend, joined the rally via Facetime to voice their bi-partisan opposition to the plan and cheer on citizens for choosing to spend their Valentine’s Day expressing their love for the ocean and the Jersey Shore.
“I am proud to stand with you all and Senators Booker and Menendez, Congressman Pallone and others to say to the Trump administration, you will NOT drill off our precious shores!” – NJ Governor Phil Murphy

NJ First Lady Tammy Murphy

“President Trump’s plan to open our coast to drilling is the greatest threat the shore has ever faced. It is backwards thinking. We need renewable resources to combat climate change, not more fossil fuels to contribute to climate change and this is the direction we are taking in New Jersey.” – NJ First Lady Tammy Murphy

Congressman Frank Pallone
“The fact of the matter is that President Obama in 2017 decided that the Atlantic should not be open to oil and gas drilling, closing the book on future drilling for at least 5 years. Frankly, I think this is absolutely illegal that the Trump administration has decided to open it up again and we are going to continue to make that point.” – Congressman Frank Pallone

Senator Bob Menendez & Senator Cory Booker

 “If you drill then you’re going to spill and we cannot afford a spill along our beautiful shoreline. We cannot afford the damage to our recreational and commercial fishing. We cannot afford to damage our property values. We cannot afford to damage the legacy that New Jersey-ians and people across the country have to enjoy at the Jersey shore. It is our birth right as New Jersey-ians to have a clean ocean. We invite Zinke to come to New Jersey and come down the shore and have a real hearing. To Cindy and all of you at Clean Ocean Action, we are going to get our message across and we are going to persist in getting a real hearing because we know what is at stake. We are not going to let them drill off our shore and we are going to do everything we can. We have a record number of co-sponsors in my legislation, the COAST Anti-Drilling Act, which has a permanent ban on drilling. The entire delegation has written to the administration opposing the drilling plan and we won’t stop until they stop.” - Senator Bob Menendez

“Happy Valentine’s Day and for all the people who love our environment, who love a clean ocean, who love the greatness of New Jersey: this is a day that we show our love, we don’t talk about our love.  As Dr. Cornel West has said, ‘Love often involves fighting for justice and justice is what love looks like in public.’ This has been proposed in the past and it is being proposed now but I see a future where drilling off the coast of New Jersey is permanently banned. We are going to fight down here in Washington.” – US Senator Cory Booker

Congressman Chris Smith

“It’s like here we go again. We had a similar proposal during the Obama administration. Now the Trump administration has resurrected that, a little worse. We want to protect the fish, the wildlife, and the environment.  So we are here to protect our precious beaches from offshore oil and gas substances, to make sure our voices are heard. We will get everything you say not just to him [Sec Zinke] but to the President and Vice President. We will make it very clear: not here, not now, not ever.” – Congressman Chris Smith

Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action

Immediately following the Press conference the excited crowd swarmed the BOEM Public Meeting in mass where they were given vague answers to their many questions and concerns, viewed outdated fact sheets and posters and had the opportunity to submit comments online via laptops provided by BOEM. The meeting did not allow for spoken testimony to be submitted.
“The idea that federal agencies would host a poster session like a science fair and hide from public accountability by not providing a public hearing is an insult and is unacceptable.  This is why Clean Ocean Action is offering a Citizen Hearing, and we have set up a mock-up of a typical federal hearing.  It’s complete with shadows of the federal officials responsible for today’s BOEM charade, including President Trump; Roger Zinke, Secretary of Interior; Walter Cruickshank, PhD, Acting Director of BOEM; but towering over them all is “BIG OIL,” said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action.

The Citizen Hearing, held in the terrace room which was transformed into the Ocean Advocacy Room, ran from 3pm-7pm. Citizens from across the state stood in front of a BOEM Brick Wall and  addressed the crowd with spoken testimony which was recorded by a professional transcriber.  Clean Ocean Action will submit the entire hearing to BOEM for the record. Over 70 citizens spoke for three minutes each and shared passionate and important testimony.

Here are some highlights: Entire event can be watched via the below links.

Araiya Casriel, a 12 year old citizen from Highlands, NJ

“Nobody wants to go to an oily, disgusting beach where dead sea creatures wash up all the time. We would lose a large portion of New Jersey’s 44 billion tourism industry. With that loss, we would lose some of the 580,000 jobs that depend on the tourism industry. Speaking of jobs, commercial fishing accounts for 8,000 jobs. The fishing industry provides the very food we eat. Oil drilling will scare off or kill the fish and other ocean species. There are about 33 species of dolphins and whales. This includes the Atlantic Right Whale, the rarest whale on earth. These whales do not deserve to die. Even though I am still too young to vote, 6 years too young, I have been counting down the days until I can vote. I hope the government will not carry out this crazy oil drilling proposal for reasons that I believe are, well, obvious,” said Araiya Casriel, a 12 year old citizen from Highlands, NJ

Jennifer Lengares-Meyer, Jenkinson's Aquarium 

“I don’t want there to be a day when the marine animals that live in our building are the only ones in our state.” - Jennifer Lengares-Meyer, Jenkinson's Aquarium, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ

Emily Hackett with 2-year old son Leo Herrala

“No oil,” yelled 2-year old Leo Herrala from Neptune City, NJ

John Straw, Citizen, Brick, NJ

“There are three reasons why I am opposed to offshore oil. One, after two tours in Iraq, I came home and realized that our addiction to foreign oil cost American lives and drilling here in New Jersey isn’t going to solve that. Two, three years ago I bought my house here 3 months before Sandy hit the Jersey Shore – completely wiped out and a lot of my neighbors are still not back. Our addiction to oil fuels global warming, making the Jersey Shore uninhabitable. The third reason, in the summer of 2010 I was activated as a reserve and sent to Louisiana for the BP Horizon Oil Spill. My job was to fly a helicopter everyday looking for oil and it was the easiest job I ever had because oil was everywhere. When you are 10,000 feet and you see oil edge to edge over the Gulf it has a personal impact that you just don’t forget. What I want to impress upon you is that every night I’d come home and watch CNN. They would have a countdown and as soon as the well was capped, it was off the news, people left and it was gone. What I am encouraging all of you, and I know I am preaching to the choir here, is to not give up the fight.” - John Straw, Citizen, Brick, NJ

Public opposition is key to stopping the Trump Administration’s Draft Proposed Plan for offshore drilling which includes 90% of US ocean waters and comes within 3 miles of beaches.  Offshore oil and gas development causes substantial environmental impacts that would threaten New Jersey’s marine life. Drilling anywhere in the Atlantic makes the region vulnerable to spills and risks revenue loss from New Jersey’s $44.1 billion dollar tourism industry, most of which is generated at the Jersey Shore.  

Background: On January 4, 2018 the Trump Administration declared war on the shore when Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke announced the next phase of President Trump’s new 5-year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (Draft Proposed Plan). The plan includes opening the entire Atlantic Ocean from Maine to Florida for drilling, including all of the Jersey Shore and NY’s South Shore, and would allow rigs to come within 3 miles of beaches.

Participating Anti-Offshore Oil Coalition Organizations: Clean Ocean Action, American Littoral Society, NY/NJ Baykeeper, Surfrider Jersey Shore, Surfrider South Jersey, Surfrider Mid-Atlantic, WaterSpirit, ANJEC, Blue Wave NJ, Food & Water Watch, League of Women Voters of NJ, NJ Conservation Foundation, Bus for Progress, Clean Water Action, Jersey Shore Partnership, Pinelands Preservation Alliance, Raritan Riverkeeper, Mott McDonald Engineers, National Parks Conservation Association, Alaska Wilderness League, Cape May Chamber of Commerce, Hackensack Riverkeeper, Sierra Club of New Jersey, Alliance for a Living Ocean, Bayshore Regional Watershed Council, Citizens Climate Lobby, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Edison Wetlands Association, Garden Club of LBI, Garden State Seafood Association, New Jersey Audubon Society, Save Barnegat Bay, Surfers' Environmental Alliance, Gotham Whale


Thursday, February 1, 2018

COA Welcomes Spencer Munson, Program and Resource Coordinator

Spencer Munson, who was COA’s Nonprofit Management Intern for the summer of 2016, re-joined the staff in January as Program and Resource Coordinator, a new position. Spencer is a recent graduate of James Madison University (JMU) College of Business with a B.B.A. in Management and a minor in Nonprofit Studies.

Past experiences include Community Outreach Coordinator for the Harrison Education Foundation, Honor Board Member for the Sigma Nu Fraternity, Big Brother for Big Brother Big Sisters of Harrisonburg-Rockingham County, and a Senior Writer for The Breeze (JMU School Paper).

Spencer “has always had a strong connection to the outdoors and developed an incredible fascination for the ocean. By accepting this position at COA, I feel that I will be continuing my journey to protect the natural resources that I hold dear and will work to inspire others to do the same.”

Surfing, hiking, camping, art, and reading are enjoyable ways for Spencer to unwind and relax.
Spencer’s past experience with COA coupled with his academic knowledge and passion for the ocean will help improve and promote COA’s programs to protect the ocean. Welcome Spencer!

Freezing Temperatures Outdoors = Sizzling COA Education Programs Indoors!

It’s always sunny and warm when students of all ages are learning how to become ocean advocates and take better care of the marine environment by participating in Clean Ocean Action presentations.

Students in Constantin Ballos’ AP Environmental Science class at Woodbridge High School learned how water quality is affected by human behavior throughout a watershed.  Many thanks to Samantha, a member of the class and of the Ecology Club, who followed up by expressing interest in volunteering with COA and who is inspired to contact our elected officials about her concerns regarding water pollution issues.

Middle school students from Carl Sandburg School in Old Bridge check their answers to the dirty dozen 

The Environmental Club at Carl Sandburg Middle School in Old Bridge learned about COA’s Beach Sweeps and how they can get involved.  Kacey Corsentino and Liz Georger, the Club Faculty Advisors, are looking forward to participating in the Beach Sweeps this spring and possibly bringing the Club to the Student Summit at Sandy Hook.

Shrewsbury Pack 50 Cub Scouts, led by Michael Merrill, will also be joining the Spring Beach Sweeps after hearing about the importance of the data and debris collection and the impact that Sweeps volunteers have on improving the marine environment.

Carl Sandburg Middle School's "Under the Sea" mural made with recycled bottle caps

For more information about COA’s educational programming, contact Amanda Wheeler at

First Rally for the Navesink Meeting of 2018

The first public Rally for the Navesink meeting of 2018 was held on January 25th at Bingham Hall in Rumson. At this meeting, COA’s Staff Scientist Dr. Swarna Muthukrishnan presented water quality results from October-December as part of the Navesink River Ambient Source Track Down program. Alliance members also provided updates on their programs, which included a presentation on ice boat sailing from Monmouth Boat Club.

Water sampling in the Navesink River watershed was briefly suspended due to frigid temperatures at the beginning of January, but it didn’t keep the bald eagles from enjoying the river! Volunteer water quality monitors resumed sampling on January 17th. Thank you volunteers!