Carbajal Requests Zinke Reverse Course on Offshore Oil Drilling

Urges Administration to Remove California OCS from Potential Lease Sales

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Washington, February 5, 2018 | comments

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24) urged the Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Ryan Zinke to exempt the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) off the California Coast from new oil and gas development, adhering to the current 2017-2022 leasing program.

In the letter to Secretary Zinke, the Congressman cited concerns of the impacts to California’s coastal counties’ $1.7 trillion tourism economy, fishing industry, and other local businesses that depend on a healthy coastline. Carbajal represents hundreds of miles of California’s coastline, stretching from Ventura up past Cambria to Ragged Point.

“Not only has this Administration repealed safety regulation on offshore drilling put in place after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster, they now want to open our coastline to new and perilous offshore oil and gas development,” said Carbajal. “These are sensitive areas that have not seen new leases sold in them since the Reagan Administration. This reckless energy policy is not only ignoring the will of Californians, who are leading the way in providing innovative clean energy solutions, but puts our local economies at risk with less safe and increased drilling. The Central Coast knows all too well the risks that oil drilling poses to our communities, and I will continue to urge this Administration to take our coastline off the negotiating table.”

Secretary Zinke is currently examining the United States offshore oil and gas leasing program pursuant to the terms of an executive order signed by President Trump on April 28, 2017. The Executive Order directed DOI to review and potentially re-start the oil and gas lease sale planning process.

The 2017-2022 leasing program does not include the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, protecting them from oil and gas leasing and exploration during that period. The Trump Administration’s Executive Order could result in drilling rigs off our coasts and beaches as early as 2019.

Read the full text of the letter here or below:

Dear President Trump and Secretary Zinke:

I am writing to express my strong opposition to the inclusion of offshore lease sales in the Pacific Region of the 2019 -2024 draft proposed program (DPP) for the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing (OCS) Agreement. I echo Governor Jerry Brown’s request and ask that you expeditiously grant California the same exemption that you granted Florida and take our coast out of the five-year DPP plan. As you move forward with this process, I also request you hold a hearing in my district to hear directly from constituents who have seen and suffered from the devastating oil spills our region has experienced.

As the Representative for Santa Barbara and the Central Coast of California, I am particularly concerned that expanding drilling into the Pacific region fails to recognize input from local stakeholders, ignores the impacts to our environment, and threatens our local tourism and commercial fishing industries. In California, nearly 70 percent of residents are opposed to increased drilling off our coast. Furthermore, 73 percent of Californian’s support investing in renewable energy and would rather see the development of offshore wind projects.

During the January 28, 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 and it had significant and lasting impacts on Santa Barbara’s unique marine ecosystem and economy. This was followed by the 2015 Refugio oil spill, also in Santa Barbara County, where the clean-up costs hit $92 million. These incidents should serve as a reminder that our coastal communities cannot afford another disastrous oil spill.

California’s coastal region generates over $1.9 trillion a year and supports more than $731 billion in wages. As in Florida, future oil drilling would pose a direct threat to California’s local tourism economy, fishing industry, and a wide range of local businesses, which are inextricably tied to clean coasts and healthy thriving ocean ecosystems. The threats of oil spills to local economies are no different in Florida than in California.

Again, I urge you to grant California the same courtesy you gave Florida and remove our coastline from the five year DPP plan. It is our responsibility to be good stewards of our environment and protect our unique communities, which are directly linked to California’s natural beauty and economic strength.

Sincerely,

SALUD O. CARBAJAL

Member of Congress

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