Record high gas prices are again renewing the debate over drilling for oil off the New Jersey coastline.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) has sent a 10-point plan to President Joe Biden they claim would drop the price of gas and make the U.S. more energy independent.

The number one recommendation is the lifting of restrictions on oil exploration and drilling along the Outer Continental Shelf, which runs about three miles off the coast of New Jersey.

The API plan calls for a five-year program to sell new leases for exploration and drilling as well as the reinstatement of leases that have been canceled.

Biden issued an executive order in 2021 that halted new drilling for oil and gas as part of his plan to combat climate change. It reversed efforts by President Donald Trump to essentially open the entire East Coast for offshore drilling.

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For more than a decade, New Jersey officials and environmental groups have been battling efforts to drill for oil off the Jersey coast, fearing a spill would decimate the state's $43 billion tourism industry.

In 2012, Federal officials announced plans to conduct environmental studies that could have paved the way for oil drilling off the East coast.

Jeff Tittel, president of the New Jersey Sierra Club, called those efforts “deeply troubling.”

"Drilling off our coast is not worth the risk," Tittel said, "Once you get oil out there the chances of a spill goes up, and the only oil we want to see on our beaches is Coppertone.”

In 2014, the Obama administration also proposed limited drilling along the Atlantic coast. One site would have been off Virginia, less than100-miles from Cape May.

The most recent proposal, by Trump in 2018, would have allowed virtually unlimited access to the Atlantic Coast for oil drilling.

More than a dozen environmental groups held a rally on the Asbury Park boardwalk, calling on the federal government to drop the plan. They said the risk of a catastrophic oil spill is real — and completely preventable by not allowing offshore drilling.

Despite rising gas prices and the effect it is having on the economy, Biden is not likely to go along with the API recommendations. It would be in direct opposition to his stated climate goals.

Biden did order the largest release of oil from the U.S. strategic reserve, but it had minimal impact on the cost of gasoline.

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