Ocean Advocates Applaud Biden Administration’s Actions on Ocean Protection
Source: Environmental Defense Center
California advocates are celebrating today’s announcement from the Biden administration to halt oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters. Advocates with the Protect the Pacific Coalition cite the need to protect the U.S. coastal economy from the risks of oil spills, the growing urgency of addressing the climate crisis, and the potential for healthy oceans to serve as a powerful climate solution.
Trump’s initial proposal from January 2018 would have opened California, Oregon and Washington to new offshore oil and gas leases for the first time in more than 30 years, which sparked a bipartisan wave of opposition across the region and around the country.
“Clean beaches and a healthy ocean are critical drivers of our coastal economies, supporting over 2.6 million jobs and generating roughly $180 billion in GDP,” said Vipe Desai, founding member of the Business Alliance for Protecting the Pacific Coast (BAPPC). "Coastal businesses are already reeling from the pandemic and need reassurances that we won't be dealing with oil spills in the future. The only way to guarantee that is to put the Trump vision for our coasts behind us, and move forward with no new leasing.”
BAPPC represents a broad range of industries--technology, tourism, seafood, real estate, and local chambers of commerce, among others--united in a shared belief that a healthy coast is vital to their bottom lines, as well as the lifestyles of their customers and staff. They recently joined their counterparts on the Atlantic Coast in a letter to the Biden administration about the importance of ending offshore drilling and advancing renewable energy.
Business leaders are among a diverse group of California stakeholders including tribal and indigenous-led organizations, environmental advocates, scientists, and coastal residents who have rallied together to protect the coast from offshore drilling.
“As the original stewards and caretakers of these lands and waters, we are absolutely against drilling in our coastal waters, and oppose the proposed sale of leases off the coast of our traditional and unceded homelands,” said Maura Sullivan, Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation, Ocean Protectors Program Director, Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples. “The drilling that is there is a constant threat and reminder that colonization is an ongoing event for California coastal Native nations. The taking of oil is a violent act. The extraction and movement of oil to process is dangerous for us and our children. We refuse to stand by as the ongoing violence of the fossil fuel industry tries to continue to profit off our last wild and healthy sacred places.”
States and local governments have said they do not want offshore drilling. For example, California lawmakers passed legislation (SB 834 and AB 1775), banning the development of new pipelines, platforms, and other infrastructure within state waters needed to bring new offshore oil and gas to shore to be processed.
“We need to say no to more offshore drilling and make the transition to renewable energy today,” said Linda Krop, Chief Counsel of the Environmental Defense Center, which has fought offshore oil development since its founding after the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill. “Californians don’t want more oil drilling off our coast. In addition to the risks of oil spills we cannot take any action that will exacerbate climate change.”
Almost 100 cities and counties across California, representing more than half of the state’s population, have taken action to publicly oppose fossil fuel development in the Pacific. Polling data shows that a majority of voters in California are opposed to offshore drilling.
The Pacific Coast has been closed to new drilling for decades, with the last federal lease sales taking place in 1984. According to the National Ocean Economics Program, tourism, recreation and fishing along California’s coast generate over $23.7 billion dollars a year and support over 429,000 jobs in hotels, restaurants, gas stations, tackle shops, charter boats, and other local businesses.