House Natural Resources Committee Holds Hearing on Huffman’s Bill to Ban Offshore Drilling

Legislation would protect North Pacific Coast, Communities from Offshore Drilling Risks

May 13, 2021

Washington, D.C. – Today, Representative Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) joined a subcommittee hearing on protecting coastal communities and ocean resources from offshore drilling, which included consideration of his legislation, H.R. 3048, the North Pacific Ocean Protection Act. This bill would prohibit new oil and gas leases off the coasts of Northern and Central California, Oregon, and Washington, ensuring a sustainable future for coastal communities and the millions of jobs and billions of dollars in wages that depend on healthy oceans and coasts.

Click here to watch a recording of Rep. Huffman’s remarks during the hearing.

Representative Huffman has led the charge to protect the entire West Coast as well as the Arctic Ocean from offshore drilling. In 2015, Rep Huffman first introduced his West Coast Ocean Protection Act to permanently protect the California, Oregon, and Washington coasts by amending the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to prohibit new oil or natural gas leases in each state’s outer continental shelves and permanently protect the $44 billion coastal economies of the three states. 

Rep. Huffman has led several other key pieces of legislation to shepherd permanent protections for the West Coast, including: 

  • the Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act, bipartisan legislation to permanently ban oil and gas leasing off both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts;
  • the Keep it in the Ground Act, legislation that would reduce carbon emissions and our nation’s addiction to fossil fuels by permanently barring new fossil fuel leases on all federal public lands and in federal waters;
  • the Stop Arctic Ocean Drilling Act, which would prohibit new or renewed oil and gas leasing in the Arctic Ocean Planning Areas of the Outer Continental Shelf.

Rep. Huffman’s West Coast Ocean Protection Act was also included in the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis’ Climate Action Plan, a comprehensive congressional climate action framework, during the 116th Congress.

“We are not going to sacrifice the scenic, economic, tourism, cultural, and environmental values of our coastal regions at the altar of short-term profits for the fossil fuel industry. The risks of offshore drilling for our ocean-dependent economies and for marine ecosystems is not even close to worth it for us,” Rep. Huffman said during the hearing. “The bills we’re considering today go hand in hand with other necessary actions to reduce emissions and invest in renewable energy all while reducing risks and making sure that our coasts are clean, safe, and available to all Americans, not a sacrifice zone for the fossil fuel industry. Now we have an administration that gets it, and they are putting forward thoughtful, comprehensive solutions. But administrations can change, and we saw that during the last four years -- what it means when an administration has a reckless drill everywhere agenda. We should not leave this to chance. Our oceans, our fisheries, our coastal communities and economies, and our planet are too important to put at risk.”

“Permanently protecting our coasts from dirty and dangerous drilling is a crucial step toward addressing the climate crisis and protecting millions of jobs nationwide that rely on a clean coast economy,” said Oceana Campaign Director Diane Hoskins. “Oceana applauds Congressman Huffman for introducing the North Pacific Ocean Protection Act, which would permanently protect the waters off of Central and Northern California, as well as Oregon and Washington from new oil drilling. From toxic oil spills to accelerated climate devastation, we cannot afford any new offshore drilling. We must permanently end new leasing for offshore drilling and transition to clean, renewable energy sources like offshore wind to create jobs and power our clean energy future.”

"The North Pacific Ocean Protection Act will ensure that the Washington, Oregon and Northern and Central California coastal environments, economies and ways of life will be protected from the harmful effects of offshore oil and gas development. The Surfrider Foundation strongly endorses HR 3048 and urges members of Congress to support this and other legislation to permanently ban new offshore drilling in U.S. water," said Pete Stauffer, Environmental Director, Surfrider Foundation

“Offshore drilling and leasing are not compatible with President Biden’s climate goal of protecting 30 percent of our lands and 30 percent of our waters by 2030, for a safe, livable future. We need to protect our coastal economies, stop pollution and spills from damaging fragile coastal ecosystems, and fight climate change. That’s why the Sierra Club continues to oppose any leasing or drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf and wholeheartedly supports this legislation,” said Athan Manuel, director of the Sierra Club's Lands Protection Program.

“This bill is exactly what is needed now to safeguard our coastal economy, restaurant and fishing jobs, and the health of our oceans.  We can’t afford to subject our coastline or our country to more industrial pollution and the ever-present threat of another BP-style disaster,” said Irene Gutierrez, Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council.