Congressman Jared Huffman part of Arctic anti-drilling effort

August 16, 2017

North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) is among 69 members of Congress who are urging Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to cease actions initiating review of the offshore drilling schedule for the next five years, according to a release from Huffman’s office.

Zinke’s probe comes after an executive order signed in April by President Trump aiming to expand offshore drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans.

According to a letter signed by the 69 members, the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program containing the drilling schedule, put in place last year, permanently prohibited drilling lease sales for much of the Arctic Ocean. Zinke’s actions could undo this important work, they say.

“Any effort to impose drilling in this region runs counter to sound public process, statutory authority, the science, and responsible use of public resources,” the letter said.

In the last lease sale considered, for the Chukchi Sea off the northwest Alaskan coast, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management – the agency that oversaw the OCS leasing program –identified a 75 percent likelihood of an oil spill, the letter stated, illustrating the risk of offshore drilling in that region.

State Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) also sent a letter opposing the review, to Kelly Hammerle of the BOEM. McGuire cited a reported 150 million tourists who visit the California coast each year.

“Our coastal economy is a roaring economic engine worth over $40 billion, generating a half million jobs,” McGuire wrote. “This massive economic engine is dependent on a clean coast.”

Huffman in March reintroduced the Stop Arctic Ocean Drilling Act, seeking to prohibit new leasing for the exploration, development or production of oil, natural gas or any other minerals in the Arctic Ocean. That bill is still in the House.

The West Coast Ocean Protection Act – another anti-drilling bill – introduced by Huffman in January, sought the same protections for the California, Oregon and Washington coasts, and is also still in the House.