LONG BRANCH  — Even as President-elect Donald Trump appears to soften his environmental positions, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone was joined Tuesday by U.S. Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, as well as Several environmental groups on the Jersey Shore to urge President Obama to permanently ban drilling in the Atlantic Ocean.

The environmentalists and New Jersey-based members of Congress said they are  concerned that Trump, when he takes office in January, will undo many policies and plans put in place by President Barack Obama over the past eight years. That includes support of the Paris climate agreements, the Clean Power Plan and limits to offshore drilling.

“The United States took an important leadership role in making the Paris Agreement happen and should continue to lead international efforts to combat climate change," Pallone said at the event on the boardwalk in Long Branch. "The Clean Power Plan is an essential part of the U.S. keeping its end of the bargain.

"If the President-elect’s administration follows through on its plans to abandon our commitments, New Jersey, the United States and the world will continue to suffer from increasing sea level rise, more frequent and intense natural disasters like Superstorm Sandy, and longer periods of drought, as well as other effects."

Trump in the past called climate change an "expensive hoax."

However, in an interview with the New York Times Tuesday, Trump said there could be "some connectivity" between human activity and climate, according to Tweets from staff members about the discussion.

The Republican also said that he is "looking very closely" at the Paris agreement.

"I have an open mind to it," Trump reportedly told the newspaper.

In a video outlining plans for his first 100 days in office released on Monday, Trump said he will "cancel job-killing restrictions on the production of American energy – including shale energy and clean coal – creating many millions of high-paying jobs. That’s what we want, that’s what we’ve been waiting for."

Menendez Tuesday again called for Obama to permanently ban offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean in order to better protect the Jersey Shore's economy.

"A permanent ban on Atlantic drilling would be a lasting message for generations to come—that we’re not willing to sell out the future of their economy or their environment for short-term profits," said Menendez, who spoke about the ban on the Senate floor last week.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.

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