Merkley, Wyden Introduce Bill to Protect West Coast from Dangerous Offshore Drilling

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden on Thursday joined colleagues in introducing the West Coast Ocean Protection Act to permanently ban offshore drilling in federal waters off the coast of Oregon, Washington and California.

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.

“I have countless precious memories of spending time on the coast with my family, and I know other Oregonians and millions of visitors have the same,” Merkley said. “This bill protects our fishing industry, our economy, our recreation, and the future of the Oregon Coast. I’ll keep fighting to protect all of our federal waters from further offshore drilling, and make sure we’re investing in a clean, renewable future.”

“Oregonians treasure our coast for both its unmatched beauty and as an economic engine for tourism, fishing and more,” Wyden said. “This legislation would protect our invaluable coastline by ensuring oil derricks don’t start mushrooming on the horizon of the Pacific as one more scheme by Donald Trump to fatten the pockets of oil and gas industry executives.”

The Oregon Legislature this session made permanent the moratorium of oil and gas exploration off of Oregon’s coast. 

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. 

The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), 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.).