We Must Act Now to Protect California’s Coast

As a long-time California resident, the Pacific Ocean has a special place in my heart. I have cemented friendships through days spent diving and nights cooking the things we caught and telling tall tales about their catching. I have been delighted by unexpected sightings of whales on the move and sea otters playing in rough surf. And during times of personal turmoil, I have been humbled and calmed by the ocean’s wildness and vastness.

The Trump Administration threatens all these things (and many more) with its push to expand offshore oil drilling, weaken states’ authority to protect their coasts, and water down crucial offshore well safety standards.

We need your help in putting a stop to the Administration’s deregulatory agenda. As my colleague Alexandra Adams writes here, in September the House is set to vote on two bills blocking the Department of the Interior from issuing new oil and gas leases in federal waters on several coasts. Please call on your representatives, to urge them to support these bills and protect the Pacific from new offshore drilling.

California is one of the sites targeted for new oil and gas leases. As my colleague Lauren Kubiak has blogged, the Trump Administration proposed an offshore drilling plan that would open up new drilling areas in almost every coastal state. The plan includes the entire California coast, which means that if the plan goes forward, the wild spaces we all love will be exposed to greater risks from offshore drilling. The state has had its share of devastating coastal and ocean oil spills over the years, including the Refugio State Beach oil spill in 2015, and the Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969, which killed thousands of animals and polluted miles of coastline. We do not need the risks that more drilling would bring.    

It is important our elected officials act now to protect our coast. The Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act (H.R. 1941), introduced by Rep. Joe Cunningham of South Carolina and scheduled for a vote in September would ban new offshore oil and gas leases in the Pacific and the Atlantic. This is an important next step that Congress must take to protect our coasts.  

California’s clean ocean economy is too valuable to squander for the prospect of a finite and dirty resource like offshore oil. Industries like tourism, recreation, and fishing generate over $43.5 billion a year and support more than 555,000 jobs. This many times over what California’s offshore oil and gas industry brings in. Businesses across the state have unified in opposition to new offshore oil development, amplifying their voices through groups like the Business Alliance for Protecting the Pacific Coast (BAPPC) and Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2). These forward-looking businesses recognize that preventing new offshore oil drilling protects the environment and is good for their bottom lines.

We need to do everything we can to make sure that individuals and businesses continue benefiting from a clean ocean and coast, and that future generations can enjoy these things as well. Please call your representative today to ask them to vote yes on H.R. 1941.

This blog provides general information, not legal advice. If you need legal help, please consult a lawyer in your state.

About the Authors

Irene Gutierrez

Senior Attorney, Nature Program

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