Senators bring bill against offshore drilling

Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrats, have 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.

Merkley said he had countless precious memories of spending family time at the coast, adding that he knows other Oregonians and millions of visitors have the same. “This bill protects our fishing industry, our economy, our recreation, and the future of the Oregon Coast,” Merkley said. “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.”

Wyden said Oregonians treasure the coast for its unmatched beauty and as an economic engine for tourism, fishing and more. “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,” Wyden said.

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