NJ Politics Digest: Will State ‘Dodge a Bullet’ When It Comes to Offshore Drilling?

"We made it clear we want to be off the drilling list," Rep. Tom MacArthur said in the report.

Administration officials have already said Florida will be exempt from the 2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. SCOTT HEPPELL/AFP/Getty Images

There were no promises, but two Republican congressmen say they came away from a meeting with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke believing the state “may have dodged a bullet” in President Donald Trump’s effort to open more offshore waters to oil exploration.

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Reps. Chris Smith and Tom MacArthur met with Zinke and said the cabinet official ” indicated … that drilling exploration off New Jersey may not be a priority for the administration, and that those waters could be formally removed from consideration, pending a formal process,” according to a report in The Asbury Park Press.

Smith, who made the “bullet” comment, MacArthur and fellow New Jersey Republicans Leonard Lance and Frank LoBiondo met with Zinke to make the case that drilling off the state could endanger both the environment and New Jersey’s bustling tourism economy.

Administration officials have already said Florida will be exempt from the 2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, and the New Jersey GOP representatives were hoping to win the same treatment for their state.

“We made it clear we want to be off the drilling list, and we came away with a clear sense he understands our position,” MacArthur said in the report. “I’d be surprised at this point if we weren’t excluded.”

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NJ Politics Digest: Will State ‘Dodge a Bullet’ When It Comes to Offshore Drilling?