ALBANY — The state Senate on Tuesday easily approved a bill that would prohibit offshore drilling in New York's waters, a measure supporters believe would thwart the Trump administration's plans to open the Eastern Seaboard for oil and gas exploration.
The bill would prohibit state agencies from processing applications for pipelines or any other transportation and distribution services needed to facilitate offshore drilling. The Senate passed the bill, 47-10, one day after the Assembly did the same, 121-22.
Though the bill applies to state waters (which generally halt 3 miles offshore) and not federal waters, backers believe it will give the state a way to slow, if not effectively block, any requests to drill in the Atlantic Ocean near New York waters. They say it will make it difficult for energy companies to obtain permits for transmission and other operations.
They also said they wanted to make a statement about protecting state waters.
"With only one mistake, we could really destroy Long Island's coastline," said Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), who sponsored the bill in the Senate. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, has said he supports the legislation, indicating he would sign it.
Opponents voiced support for American energy independence and questioned whether the bill would violate federal interstate commerce laws.
"This is a federal issue that must, by law, be dealt with by Congress and cannot be death with by state law," said Assemb. Andy Goodell (R-Jamestown).
Every member of Long Island's Assembly and Senate delegation voted for the bill, save for Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport).
Trump announced in 2018 his administration intended to hold 47 lease sales along the Eastern Seaboard between 2019 and 2024, with the bulk of the tracts sited either in the Gulf of Mexico or off the Alaska coast. Doing so would reverse a ban on drilling in the Atlantic Ocean implemented by then-President Barack Obama following the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. The Trump administration recently approved seismic testing in the Atlantic for potential drilling.
With Michael Gormley