The Trump administration today moved to allow offshore oil and gas drilling in nearly all federal waters, including sites off the North Coast of California, and our state and federal representatives sound frankly pissed.
“Californians will never let this happen,” said Rep. Jared Huffman, who has been one of the most active opponents of offshore drilling in the U.S. Congress. “This reckless proposal for a new offshore drilling spree should face widespread, bipartisan opposition. We’ll fight them in Congress, on the beaches, in the courts, and at the ballot box. I’m confident we’ll defeat this dangerous plan.”
California Senator Mike McGuire struck a similar tone, vowing, “We will never back down when it comes to protecting California’s coast and will fight this dangerous proposal vigorously.”
And on the activist front, Humboldt County’s own Jennifer Savage, who is now the California policy manager for the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation, was quoted in the Washington Post citing polls showing that nearly 70 percent of Californians oppose offshore drilling. “That’s a significant majority willing to push back against those who would destroy [the state’s beaches] with new offshore oil drilling,” Savage said.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced the draft five-year leasing plan this morning, saying the agency plans to allow offshore drilling in 25 of the nation’s 26 planning areas, including spots in the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic oceans as well as the Gulf of Mexico.
“By proposing to open up nearly the entire [outer continental shelf] for potential oil and gas exploration, the United States can advance the goal of moving from aspiring for energy independence to attaining energy dominance,” said Vincent DeVito, Counselor for Energy Policy at Interior.
“We are going to become the strongest energy superpower,” Zinke declared, sounding a bit like Lex Luthor.
California Governor Jerry Brown released a joint statement with the governors of Oregon and Washington, saying, “For more than 30 years, our shared coastline has been protected from further drilling, and we’ll do whatever it takes to stop this reckless, shortsighted action.”
As the L.A. Times reports, the federal proposal suggests seven new leases in the Pacific, including two in the Northern California region shown in the map at right.
There have been no federal lease sales off the California coast since 1984.
Randall Luthi of the National Ocean Industries Association told the L.A. Times that no new drilling can take place until after a lengthy environmental review and public comment period for the Interior Department’s plan.
The only public hearing in California will be in Sacramento on Feb. 8.
Here’s the full statement by McGuire’s office:
President Trump’s proposal will be the largest expansion of offshore oil drilling in decades and California will be ground zero for the expansion.
Mark my words: We will never back down when it comes to protecting California’s coast and will fight this dangerous proposal vigorously.
The Golden State’s coast attracts 150 million visitors annually from all across the planet. It’s a core part of this great state’s identity and our $40 billion coastal economy is a main driver of our statewide economic engine.
And here’s the full statement from Huffman’s office:
Rep. Huffman Blasts Trump’s Irresponsible Offshore Drilling Expansion
Washington, D.C.- Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) slammed the Trump administration’s proposal to allow a dangerous oil drilling spree off the coast of California, as well as across American waters in the Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic, and Gulf of Mexico.
“Secretary Zinke’s announcement today confirms that the Trump administration is hell-bent on trampling the public interest and further lining the pockets of Big Oil at the expense of clean air, clean water, and the health of the American people,” said Rep.Huffman.
“Californians will never let this happen. Our state has shown that we can have a growing economy along with environmental protections, and we have made it very clear, again and again, that we do not want to put our fisheries, our beaches, or our coastal economies at risk just to enrich the fossil fuel industry. The bottom line is that offshore drilling means oil spills, and the risk is even higher now that the Trump administration is weakening offshore safety rules. This reckless proposal for a new offshore drilling spree should face widespread, bipartisan opposition. We’ll fight them in Congress, on the beaches, in the courts, and at the ballot box. I’m confident we’ll defeat this dangerous plan.”
Rep. Huffman has led the fight against offshore drilling in Congress, authoring the West Coast Protection Act to prohibit any new oil and gas drilling off the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington. He also joined with fellow California Representatives Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-San Pedro) and Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) in leading a letter with 36 colleagues opposing new Pacific Ocean lease sales in the Trump administration’s offshore drilling plans. All three West Coast Governors, as well as all six West Coast Senators, oppose new Pacific lease sales, and every Democratic congressional representative from a coastal district in Washington, Oregon, and California has cosponsored Rep. Huffman’s West Coast Protection Act.
Rep. Huffman is also the author of the Stop Arctic Ocean Drilling Act, which has been cosponsored by 60 members of the House of Representatives. He recently led 69 members of Congress in urging Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to protect the Arctic Ocean from dangerous activities by the oil & gas industry and to exclude all new Arctic Ocean lease sales from any future offshore drilling plan.