Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced the West Coast Ocean Protection Act (S.1318) to permanently ban offshore drilling in federal waters off the coast of California, Oregon and Washington.
Last year, the Trump administration released its five-year offshore leasing plan that proposed opening up the entire West Coast to new drilling despite widespread opposition in Pacific coast states. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said last month that the Trump administration was suspending its plan indefinitely after several legal setbacks in the courts.
“Doubling down on the failed ‘drill, baby, drill’ approach threatens our oceans and coastal economies while doing nothing to reduce carbon emissions or increase our energy independence,” said Senator Feinstein. “While the Trump administration has already admitted its offshore drilling plan is being delayed by legal setbacks, we can’t risk leaving our oceans unprotected if it prevails.”
California began efforts to block offshore drilling in 1969 when an oil rig off the coast of Santa Barbara leaked 3 million gallons of crude oil into the ocean, blanketing local beaches with a thick layer of oil and killing thousands of marine mammals and birds. It was the largest oil spill in U.S. history until the Exxon Valdez spill twenty years later.
After the 1969 Santa Barbara spill, California blocked all new offshore oil drilling in state waters, protecting our coastal waters up to three miles from the shore. The state reinforced that ban in 1994 by passing the California Coastal Sanctuary Act.
No new offshore drilling has been allowed in federal waters along the Pacific Coast since 1984. The West Coast Ocean Protection Act would permanently protect these waters that are essential to coastal economies and healthy marine ecosystems. Nearly 70 percent of Californians opposed offshore drilling according to recent polling by the Public Policy Institute of California.
The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.)
Companion legislation was introduced by Congressman Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) in the House of Representatives.