The Latest: Bureau defends Trump's oil and gas drilling plan

FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 file photo, a protester dressed like a polar bear joins other protesters against oil drilling off the California Coast in a march from the state Capitol to a hearing by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, in Sacramento, Calif. Opponents of President Donald Trump's plan to open most of the nation's coastline to oil and natural gas drilling have held boisterous rallies before public meetings held by the federal government on the topic. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018 file photo, Cindy Zipf, executive director of the Clean Ocean Action environmental group, speaks at a rally in Asbury Park, N.J., against President Trump's plan to allow oil and natural gas drilling off most of the nation's coastline. Opponents of Trump's plan to open most of the nation's coastline to oil and natural gas drilling have held boisterous rallies before public meetings held by the federal government on the topic. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry, File)

HAMILTON, N.J. — The Latest on complaints about offshore oil and gas drilling hearings (all times local):

4:50 p.m.

A federal government bureau holding hearings over President Donald Trump's plan to open most of the nation's coastline to oil and natural gas drilling has defended the plan despite boisterous protests.

Drilling opponents held their own meeting in Hamilton, New Jersey, on Wednesday before a Bureau of Ocean Energy Management meeting began. They're upset the bureau won't allow them to speak at a microphone.

The bureau's chief environmental officer says everyone knows renewable energy is something that should be developed more but "renewables are not going to take the place of fossil fuels immediately."

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy addressed the environmental rally by video link before the bureau meeting. He sent a message to the Republican president: "You will not drill off our precious shores! No way!"

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4:10 p.m.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has a message for President Donald Trump: "You will not drill off our precious shores! No way!"

The Democratic governor issued the message to the Republican president Wednesday while addressing an environmental rally by video link before a U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management meeting.

Opponents of Trump's plan to open most of the nation's coastline to oil and natural gas drilling have staged boisterous rallies before the bureau's public meetings because the public isn't allowed to speak at the meetings. The bureau allows people to comment online or hand in written comments but won't allow them to get up at a microphone.

Trump's decision on oil and gas drilling has horrified environmentalists. But energy groups and some business organizations support it.

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12:25 a.m.

Opponents of President Donald Trump's plan to open most of the nation's coastline to oil and natural gas drilling have held boisterous rallies before public meetings held by the federal government on the topic.

That's because the public cannot speak to the assembled attendees at the meetings. The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is meeting one-on-one with interested parties and allows people to comment online.

Because drilling opponents can't address the room, they've been holding their own meetings. The latest will take place on Wednesday in Hamilton, New Jersey.

Cindy Zipf (zihf) of New Jersey's Clean Ocean Action says she understands it's uncomfortable to have to defend a bad idea, but adds, "That's democracy."

The bureau says its chosen format is more effective than formal oral testimony.

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