Local congressman adds protections against offshore oil drilling to bill
–On Friday, the House Appropriations Committee advanced the Interior-Environment Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2021 and included language proposed by local Congressman Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) to block the current administration’s plans to expand oil and gas leasing into protected areas of the Outer Continental Shelf, including the Central Coast.
“Protecting our environment and local economy is paramount, and I refuse to let the Trump Administration put the interests of the oil and gas lobby over the well-being of our coast,” said Rep. Salud Carbajal. “We on the Central Coast know first-hand how devastating an oil spill can be to our marine life, economy, and community. I will keep working to protect our coast against harmful offshore oil drilling so our region never has to experience the devastating effects of another oil spill.”
“The Environmental Defense Center is extremely grateful to Rep. Carbajal for his leadership in protecting our coast from further oil and gas development. Not only does oil drilling lead to more devastating oil spills, but it is exactly the wrong path for the nation to take in the face of increasing climate change,” said Owen Bailey, executive director of the Environmental Defense Center.
“President Trump’s plan to expand offshore drilling to nearly all U.S. waters shows an alarming disregard for those who have the most to lose from drilling disasters. We applaud Congressman Carbajal, and committee leaders, for standing up for coastal communities and marine wildlife that depend on a clean and healthy ocean to survive,” said Oceana Campaign Director Diane Hoskins. “This is an important step toward stopping the president’s plans and protecting our coasts from dirty and dangerous drilling.”
“We thank Congressman Carbajal for helping to protect our region from the threat of new oil leases. Drilling for oil offshore is risky anywhere given the economic and environmental impacts of spills, but it is a particularly bad idea in California which is highly populated and has the largest GDP in the nation, 80% of which is in coastal counties that would all be put at risk from a major oil spill,” said Katie Davis, Chair of Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter. “Converging currents and up-wellings of nutrient-rich water make the waters off the central coast a biodiversity hotspot, one of the most ecologically diverse regions on the planet, and critically important to protect.”
“If this administration has its way, oil development will rampantly continue off of our coastline,” said Michael Lyons, President of Get Oil Out! “GOO! is concerned about the potential catastrophic impacts of oil spills from more new drilling off our coastline. GOO! strongly supports a more sustainable energy path into the future and, therefore applauds Congressman Carbajal’s efforts to stop future oil leases through the appropriations process.”
Congressman Carbajal led two letters, submitted on March 20th and May 28th, to the Appropriations Committee urging them to include language in the FY2021 Interior-Environment Appropriations spending package to bar federal funds from being used to approve new oil and gas leasing in any areas of the Outer Continental Shelf protected under President Obama’s 2017-2022 five-year plan.
The letters followed the Trump Administration’s new 2019-2024 Draft Proposed Program, an attempt to undo the Obama-era protections and allow for new oil and gas leasing in nearly all U.S. waters, including seven new lease sales in the Pacific region alone.
The FY21 Interior-Environment Appropriations bill will now head to the House Floor. A vote by the full House is expected in late July.