West Coast Senators Introduce Bill to Protect The Pacific Coast from Offshore Oil Drilling

Washington, D.C. –U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced legislation today to permanently prohibit offshore drilling on the outer continental shelf of California, Oregon and Washington State.

The legislation would amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to permanently protect the $34 billion coastal economies of the three states – which support nearly 570,000 jobs in California, Oregon and Washington.

Senator Boxer said, “We simply cannot afford the risk posed by oil drilling off our magnificent coast. Nearly 570,000 jobs and our vital coastal economy would not survive an environmental disaster like the one we’re seeing now along the Gulf Coast.”

“We must act to safeguard our precious coastal waters and end our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels,” Senator Cantwell said. “It is simply unacceptable to risk irreparable harm to our coastal communities, economies and ecosystems just to feed our oil addiction with a short-term fix – especially when new technologies are emerging that give us real alternatives.”

“Offshore oil drilling carries with it real risk. The voters of California have voted that they don’t want offshore oil drilling, and I don’t want offshore drilling. Now we know what the potential is for catastrophe and we have to see that it never, ever happens again,” Senator Feinstein said.  “Therefore, I’m very happy to join with Senator Boxer and others on this legislation to permanently ban all new offshore oil and natural gas along the West Coast.”

“I’ve always opposed drilling off the coast of Washington. The current tragedy in the Gulf Coast is a painful reminder that we can’t allow drilling anywhere on the West Coast,” Senator Murray said.  “The economic and environmental devastation caused by the Exxon Valdez disaster is still impacting industry in our region, and we can’t allow it to happen again.  Our environment and our economy are too important to risk, and this bill ensures that big oil companies can never roll the dice on the Pacific coast.”

“Two years ago the oil industry was riding high on choruses of ‘drill, baby, drill’ and they stripped away protections for the Pacific coast that would prevent Oregon from becoming a victim of the kind of catastrophic oil spill happening in the Gulf of Mexico,” Senator Wyden said. “This moratorium will restore those protections.”

“We are united in the principle that no oil drilling should occur off our shores,” said Senator Merkley.  “The Oregon Legislature has acted to stop drilling off the coast up to three miles but they can only do so much.  It is up to us in Congress to protect coastal jobs and Oregon beaches.”

The West Coast Ocean Protection Act includes clear language stating that “the Secretary of the Interior shall not issue a lease for the exploration, development, or production of oil or natural gas in any area of the outer Continental Shelf off the coast of the State of California, Oregon or Washington.”