At one of the debates during his campaign to purchase a seat in Congress, Tom MacArthur was asked a question about Atlantic offshore oil drilling. Realize that he was vying for a seat in a district in which he didn’t live, so it’s understandable if he didn’t quite get that tourism is big business in the Ocean County towns that he wanted to represent.
His answer was perfectly aligned with the right-wing mantra. He said that it was up to the individual states to determine whether or not to allow offshore drilling. Perhaps he thought that the inevitable spill that occurs in another state would not wash up on New Jersey’s shores.
MacArthur may have a chance to show where his true allegiance lies – either with the New Jersey tourism industry or with the big oil companies. Both New Jersey U.S. Senators have joined several other Democrats to introduce legislation (The Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism or COAST act) to prohibit drilling in the Atlantic, even though the President supports this folly. Senator Menendez remarked, “The Jersey Shore’s tourism industry alone generates $38 billion a year and directly supports almost half a million jobs. We’re introducing the COAST Act to help protect our local economies, marine life, the health of our shore residents and to tell Big Oil that America’s coastline is not for sale.”
Elected officials change their positions all the time. Senator Sweeney and President Obama “evolved” on marriage equality. Governor Christie was for funding teachers’ pensions before he was against it.
Let’s hope if COAST can miraculously get through the oil-company-dominated Senate that Congressman MacArthur evolves in to a vocal proponent for saving New Jersey’s beaches and tourism industry.