New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a legislation that bans offshore drilling in New York State waters on grounds of environmental concerns.


Image: New York aims to protect state's waters and coastal communities by banning offshore drilling. Photo courtesy of Kasey Houston/

The bill, which was passed by the state legislature in February 2019, was signed in response to the Trump administration’s plan to open the US coastal waters for oil and natural gas exploration and drilling.

The new legislation prohibits the state agencies from granting permits for drilling, or oil or gas exploration in state-owned offshore areas.

The bill would make it more difficult for oil and gas drilling to occur close to coastal New York, even in waters controlled by the federal government.

Additionally, the bill bans the leasing of state-owned underwater coastal land that would authorize or facilitate the exploration, development, or production of oil or natural gas.

Cuomo said: “This bill says no way are you going to drill off the coast of Long Island and New York, because we must lead the way as an alternative to what this federal government is doing.”

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.”

In 2017, the federal government proposed a new National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2019-2024.

The leasing program opens up more than 90% of the country’s offshore waters in the Atlantic Ocean for potential oil and gas exploration and drilling.

The move is believed to put New York’s coast at direct risk of significant environmental damage.

The federal government, however, excluded Florida from offshore drilling citing the state’s heavy reliance on tourism.

New York has not been excluded from the leasing program, which would affect nearly 320,000 jobs and billions of dollars generated through tourism and fishing industries.

New York Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee chairperson Assemblyman Steve Englebright said: “There has been near unanimous condemnation of the federal government’s proposal to open up our waters to drilling for oil and gas. This legislation takes aggressive action to protect New York’s environment by prohibiting offshore drilling.

“This law will protect and defend our waters; keeping them safe for recreation, fishing and wildlife. At the same time this action will protect the value of our homes and the natural resources which make Long Island a tourist destination.”