Rep. Carbajal Leads 19 Colleagues in Effort to Protect CA Marine Sanctuaries
Washington, DC – Today, Representative Salud Carbajal (CA-24) led a group of 19 colleagues in sending a letter to Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, urging him to maintain the boundaries and designations of California’s four National Marine Sanctuaries: the Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, Cordell Band, and the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries. The letter expressed the Members’ strong support for the California marine sanctuaries under review as part of Executive Order 13795, “Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy.”
On the Central Coast, the Channel Islands and Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuaries host sensitive marine ecosystems and a vibrant wildlife. Revoking the marine sanctuary designation or reducing its boundaries exposes the region to oil drilling and gas development, which threatens wildlife and economic security of surrounding coastal communities.
The 30-day public comment period on this review closes today, despite Rep. Carbajal’s previous request to extend the deadline in order to ensure constituents have a reasonable opportunity to provide comment.
“The Central Coast knows too well the risk that oil drilling poses after experiencing multiple destructive spills off our coastline,” said Rep. Carbajal. “Our oceans face unprecedented challenges today, whether it is increased development on our coasts, a warming ocean climate, or rising levels of pollution. California’s marine sanctuaries are vital to maintaining a healthy ocean ecosystem and a robust coastal economy. I urge this Administration to listen to the strong consensus of California residents and reject this unwanted review of our marine sanctuaries.”
“This Executive Order is a rejection of a legacy of laws, leaders, and local communities that have long fought to prevent any attempts to drill for oil in our treasured marine sanctuaries,” said Rep. Jimmy Panetta. “Our marine sanctuaries are living legacies that belong to all of us. We are fighting not only to protect our marine sanctuaries in California and across our nation, but to preserve the many benefits that our oceans bestow upon our communities, country, and future generations.”
“California’s National Marine Sanctuaries are not only national treasures, they are also vital to our state’s $1.9 trillion coastal economy,” said Rep. Julia Brownley. “We need to protect sanctuaries, like Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, from harmful development that would disrupt delicate ecosystems, jeopardize natural habitats, and hurt coastal economies. Our future depends on the continued sustainability of these irreplaceable national treasures.”
“California’s coastal economy depends on healthy oceans. Ask any of our local businesses, constituents, or visitors from around the country what they enjoy about the ocean - it’s not oil spills or seeing a rig on the horizon,” said Rep. Jared Huffman. “They come to our national marine sanctuaries and monuments, including the Cordell Bank and the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries that we’re so fortunate to have on the North Coast, to enjoy these unique ecosystems and cultural sites. Any supposed benefits from fossil fuels are not worth jeopardizing these opportunities and the millions of dollars that are generated by protecting our oceans and coasts.”
Representatives Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Jared Huffman (CA-2), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Grace Napolitano (CA-32), Mike Thompson (CA-5), Anna Eshoo (CA-18), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Mark Desaulnier (CA-11), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Nanette Diaz Barragan (CA-44), Adam Schiff (CA-28), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), and J. Luis Correa (CA-46) joined Carbajal in sending the letter.
View the letter here or read its full text below:
The Honorable Wilbur L. Ross, Jr.
U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20230
July 26, 2017
Subject: President’s Executive Order 13795
Dear Secretary Ross:
We are greatly concerned with the President’s Executive Order 13795, which directs you to review national marine sanctuaries and monument designations or expansions made since April 28, 2007 and to assess locations for offshore oil and gas leasing. As you begin your evaluation, we write in strong support of California’s four national marine sanctuaries under review: the Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, Cordell Bank, and the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries. These are economic hubs that generate millions of dollars in economic activity and support thousands of jobs along our coastlines. We urge you to maintain the designation and current boundaries of California’s marine sanctuaries under review intact. We also ask that the Administration keep in place the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program of 2017-2022, which prohibits offshore drilling off the California Coast.
California’s marine sanctuaries are vital to its $1.9 trillion coastal economy and essential in protecting some of our nation’s most treasured natural resources. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates that between 2010 and 2012, harvest from commercial fishing in four California national marine sanctuaries produced about $69.2 million. This had a multiplier effect, which generated $70 million in income that supported 1,840 coastal jobs. Meanwhile, many of our constituents know too well the disastrous impacts offshore oil drilling has on our shorelines and our local economies.
During the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, 100,000 barrels of crude oil spewed into the Santa Barbara Channel. This was the largest oil spill in California’s history that significantly harmed Santa Barbara’s unique marine ecosystem and wildlife. Paired with the 2015 Refugio oil spill, also in Santa Barbara County, where clean-up costs hit $92 million— these incidents remind us that our coastal communities cannot afford another devastating oil spill.
Rescinding any marine sanctuary designation or decreasing any of the current boundaries to allow for offshore drilling would threaten marine resources that help sustain many commercial fisheries and local tourism, both of which are essential to California’s economy. The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and National Park, off the coast of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, hosts one third of Southern California’s kelp forests. While kelp is a main source of food for the California red sea urchin, data from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife finds that kelp forest have declined dramatically since 2014 due to warming waters; thus, endangering the red sea urchin, a multi-million-dollar fishery that is important to the sushi industry. Similarly, travel and tourism accounts for 1 out of 8 jobs in the Central Coast.
The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, often referred to as the “Serengeti of the Sea,” is internationally recognized for its truly unique wildlife views and thousands of people travel far and wide to see this one-of-a-kind treasure. NOAA reports that total travel spending revenue in 2003 for the five counties adjacent to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in the Central Coast was $5.9 billion. In addition, the sanctuary also supports the Monterey Bay Aquarium—which in 2009 saw 2 million visitors and produced $71 million in direct spending.
Just north of the Monterey National Marine Sanctuary, commercial fishing in the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary created almost $1.7 million in economic output on a three-year average. In the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, on a three-year average, commercial fishing earned over $15 million in harvest revenues.
California’s marine sanctuaries and recent expansions were the product of years of public engagement with local communities and enjoy wide support in California. In our support for our marine sanctuaries, we recognize that healthy sustainable ecosystems and economic growth are not mutually exclusive.
We ask that you keep in mind the strong support that the California marine sanctuaries enjoy from its residents and the millions of visitors they host each year, as you review the four marine sanctuaries in California. Our coastline and natural resources are renown and we should be good stewards in protecting our natural resources for future generations.