Reps. Huffman, Garamendi Lead West Coast Members in Introducing Legislation to Permanently Ban Offshore Drilling on Pacific Coast

November 04, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Representatives Jared Huffman (CA-02) and John Garamendi (CA-10) led West Coast Members of Congress in introducing legislation to permanently ban offshore drilling on the Pacific Coast. The West Coast Ocean Protection Act would 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, which support nearly 650,000 jobs.

"Offshore drilling is inherently dangerous.  Things go wrong and disasters happen, despite the happy talk we always hear from the oil and gas industry," said Jared Huffman (CA-02).  "A prior generation of Californians learned this painful lesson after the horrific 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill.  It was reinforced for the current generation by the massive Deepwater Horizon explosion and the devastation it brought to the environment and economy of the Gulf Coast. With this bill, we are thinking of future generations—and putting their interests above the short-term profits of Big Oil.  Our pristine coastlines and fragile ocean ecosystems deserve nothing less than the permanent protection this bill guarantees." 

“The Pacific Coast is just not suited for offshore oil platform drilling. The seas are too rough; the risk of a catastrophic earthquake is too great; and one tragic accident could kill millions of marine animals, ruin miles of coastline, and devastate entire industries,” said John Garamendi (CA-10). “It’s time to end the era of platform drilling in California and focus on the renewable energy sources that will create sustainable jobs for decades to come and help our country respond to the growing harmful effects of the climate crisis.”

The West Coast Ocean Protection Act was cosponsored  by Reps. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Sam Farr (CA-20), Grace Napolitano (CA-32), Mike Thompson (CA-05), Doris Matsui (D-06), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Mike Honda (CA-17), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Lois Capps (CA-24), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Scott Peters (CA-52), Susan Davis (CA- 53), and Donna Edwards (MD-04).

“Oil drilling is inherently a dirty and dangerous business; it is a matter of when an accident will occur, not if,” said Lois Capps (CA-24). “The Plains oil spill near Santa Barbara this year served as a stark reminder of the dangers associated with transporting and drilling for oil. These spills and accidents endanger public health, poison local marine systems and wildlife, and inflict serious harm on our economy. That is why I am proud to be joining my colleagues in introducing this legislation to build on my longstanding efforts to prevent new offshore oil drilling along the West Coast.” 

“Our country should be transitioning to low-carbon energy sources, not taking on the risk of disastrous oil spills. It’s time to make smart investments that will foster a new economy based on clean and renewable energy,” said Suzan DelBene (WA-01). “The beautiful environment that surrounds us is what makes living in the Pacific Northwest so special, and taking care of our natural resources and protecting our environment is critical to preserving the quality of life we cherish.”

“We can’t drill and spill our way to a strong economy,” said Sam Farr (CA-20). “Visitors travel to California in hopes of seeing a whale, not an oil rig. Drilling along the Pacific Coast would increase the risk of another disastrous spill that would cripple local economies which depend on a healthy ocean.”

“Our states’ oceans and coastlines are one of our most precious assets. They are key to our economies and our way of life, and they will continue be—if we can protect them—long after the fossil fuel consumption chapter has ended on our planet,” said Alan Lowenthal (CA-47). “This bill takes the long view for future generations and helps to ensure that ideal that we pass on to them an environment better than we found it.”

“The North Coast is simply not an appropriate place for off-shore oil drilling,” said Mike Thompson (CA-05). “It’s one of the most productive ecosystems in the world, supporting salmon, Dungeness crab, rockfish, sole, and urchin populations. It is one of four major upwellings in all the world’s oceans, allowing nutrient-rich water to rise supporting an abundance of marine life. If an oil spill were to occur in this area, not only would the economic damage to businesses and tourism be staggering, the rocky shores and rough seas would make a cleanup impossible.  Although oil is a part of an important all-the-above energy solution, we cannot open up the North Coast for drilling.”

"A key element of California's diverse economy is its unparalleled stretch of coastline and I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation which will protect our precious resource. Protecting our open spaces and California’s sacred wilderness is more than sound public policy—it’s a responsibility we take very seriously,” said Mike Honda (CA-17). “Damage caused by past oil spills demonstrates what we have to lose if we allow more drilling off the Pacific Coast: loss of marine life, destruction of the environment, threats to public health, and damage to our economy. Offshore drilling increases greenhouse gas emissions and prolongs our fight against climate change—instead we need to focus on energy solutions that are clean, efficient and sustainable."

“An oil spill off the coast of Oregon would be catastrophic to marine ecosystems and our coastal communities. It is simply not worth the risk,” said Earl Blumenauer (OR-03). “It’s also short-sighted. We cannot drill ourselves out of our energy needs. Instead, we need to invest in clean and renewable energy technologies that will help us combat climate change and create jobs in Oregon and across the country.”

The full text of the bill can be found HERE.

Earlier this month, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) re-introduced the Senate version of the bill.