News Releases

West Coast Senators Introduce Bill To Protect Pacific Coast From New Offshore Oil Drilling

Jan 25 2011

Permanent Moratorium Would Protect Coastal Jobs in California, Oregon and Washington

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) today introduced legislation to prohibit offshore drilling permanently on the outer continental shelf of California, Oregon and Washington State.

The legislation, first introduced in 2010, 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 cannot afford to put California’s coastal economy at risk by drilling offshore.  Nearly 390,000 California jobs and $23 billion in annual economic activity depend on a pristine coastline. The bill would help prevent another economic and environmental disaster like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill along the Gulf Coast last year.”

“One of the lessons learned from the disastrous BP oil spill is that without a fundamental transformation of the oil industry, another spill is possible, even likely.  That’s not a risk I’m willing to take for Washington State’s beautiful coastlines and the communities that depend on them,” Senator Cantwell said. “More offshore drilling will not lower gasoline prices or reduce our nation’s dangerous overreliance on foreign oil, which is why we should be focusing on the promising clean energy alternatives that are better for consumers and can provide long-term sustainable solutions to America’s energy needs.”

“We’ve seen how utterly devastating offshore oil spills can be, and that’s why California voters have voted to ban all offshore drilling from our coastline. I’m proud to join Senator Boxer in introducing a bill that will permanently ban all new offshore drilling for oil and natural gas along the West Coast,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

“I’ve always opposed drilling off the coast of Washington. The 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.”

“Three years ago the oil industry was able to wipe away the moratorium on offshore oil drilling and expose the Pacific coast to the risk of catastrophic oil spills of the kind that happened in the Gulf of Mexico last year,” Wyden said. “This bill will reinstate those protections and permanently guard the coasts of Oregon, Washington and California from the those very real environmental threats.”

“Millions of Oregonians depend on clean ocean waters. This vital resource sustains jobs in our state's fishing, shipping, and tourism industries and we can’t afford to put the state’s economy at risk just to pad the profits of big oil. This moratorium will ensure that Oregon’s coastline is protected for generations to come,” said Senator Merkley. 

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.”