- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 16, 2017

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday signaled his opposition to a Trump administration proposal to search for natural gas and oil off the state’s nearly 130-mile (209-kilometer) coast

Christie tweeted while on vacation in Italy that he’s “delivering on my promise” to tell the federal government “NO” on offshore exploration.

The tweet came after Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin sent a letter Wednesday to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in response to a request for comments on a proposed gas and oil leasing program.

Water off the state’s coast is home to birds, fish, mammals and plants that could be hurt by exploration, Martin said. He also said the program could hurt the $44 billion tourism industry.

“New Jersey has consistently and steadfastly opposed any industrialization of our coast,” Martin wrote.

Christie, a Republican, has opposed coastal drilling as far back as 2010 , but his opposition on Wednesday comes during President Donald Trump’s administration. Christie has been a supporter and friend of the Republican president and leads his commission on opioids.

The governor’s letter drew rare praise from the state’s environmental advocates.

“It is good that they are coming out the offshore drilling plan in the North and Mid-Atlantic,” New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said in a statement.

But, he added, that Christie should go further to halt climate change effects that could result from drilling elsewhere.

Christie’s office didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.

Trump, also a Republican, called for an “America-First” offshore energy exploration policy in an April executive order. The order says it will be the nation’s policy to encourage energy production and exploration.

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This story has been corrected to show the last name of the New Jersey Sierra Club director is Tittel, not Tittell.


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