The US state of New York has approved legislation banning offshore oil and gas drilling across the state waters.
The new law, signed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, prohibits oil and gas exploration and drilling in all offshore areas under state administration.
The legislation also bans leasing state-owned underwater coastal land for exploration and production of fossil fuels. It is estimated to dampen the federal administration’s move to open the country’s offshore waters to oil and gas drilling.
In 2017, the US government proposed a new National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2019-2024. The plan proposed opening up of around 90% of US coastal waters for drilling.
The plan was vehemently opposed by multiple coastal states and environmental groups who expressed concerns that the move may cause significant damages to the undersea flora and fauna.
In a statement, the government of New York noted that opening up state waters for offshore drilling would threaten its tourism and fishing industries, which make major contributions to the coastal state’s economy.
It added that any potential oil spill could damage the Port of NYNJ, the largest on the Atlantic seaboard which supports 400,000 indirect jobs and 229,000 direct jobs.
Since last year, six US states have already passed new laws to restrict offshore drilling.
New York lieutenant governor Kathy Hochul said: “This legislation to ban offshore drilling in New York’s waterways is part of our ongoing efforts to protect our water quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“While the federal government fails to address the threat of environmental damage, New York is continuing to lead the way with our aggressive clean energy goals and commitment to combat climate change for a cleaner and greener environment for future generations.”
Last week, the federal administration reportedly decided to halt its offshore oil and gas drilling plan until all pending legal appeals process are cleared.