Council Votes to Protect California’s Coast from Federal Government Proposals for Offshore Drilling Expansion
Yesterday evening, the Watsonville City Council unanimously adopted a resolution opposing new offshore drilling off the coast of California. The City of Watsonville is the seventeenth municipality in California to formally oppose offshore drilling activities off their shores, joining more than 150 municipalities on both the West and East coasts.
“We applaud the Watsonville City Council for standing up to protect California’s coast from expanded offshore drilling,” said Ashley Blacow, Pacific policy and communications manager with Oceana. “We simply cannot support expanded offshore oil and gas drilling at the risk of coastal communities, economies, and ocean wildlife. The City of Watsonville just sent a clear message to decision-makers in Washington, DC that California’s coast is not for sale.”
“As a leader of a coastal conservation non-profit with a mission to steward clean shores, healthy habitats and living waters in our Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, it is particularly gratifying to see the City of Watsonville unite and take a stand against potential future threats to our Sanctuary,” said Katherine O’Dea, Executive Director of Save Our Shores. “Environmental policy coming out of D.C. these days is imprudent at best, so action by our local governing bodies is one of our best lines of defense.”
The West Coast has long been safeguarded from expanded offshore drilling; no new leases have been granted in Pacific federal waters since 1984 or in California state waters since 1969—the year of the Santa Barbara oil spill disaster. However, in April 2017 President Trump issued an Executive Order calling for a re-evaluation of U.S. oceans for oil and gas potential, including the Pacific coast. In response, local jurisdictions in California have been speaking out, with 16 municipalities passing resolutions since April.
A healthy Pacific coast contributes upwards of 500,000 jobs and provides nearly $12 billion in wages, through fishing, recreation and tourism and other sectors. The 1969 Santa Barbara and 2015 Refugio Beach oil spill disasters, combined with multiple leaks from offshore platforms and undersea pipelines, have released more than four million gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean over the decades. Offshore drilling related spills and chronic oil leaks put the ocean economy, marine wildlife, and the health of communities at risk.
Many of California’s state leaders also vocally oppose expanded offshore oil drilling including California Governor Jerry Brown, California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the California Fish and Game Commission, the California State Lands Commission, and the California Coastal Commission.
For more information go to www.oceana.org/ProtectourCoast
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one third of the world’s wild fish catch. With nearly 200 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that one billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. To learn more about Oceana’s work in the United States, please visit www.usa.oceana.org.
Save Our Shores is the California Central Coast’s oldest marine conservation nonprofit. We advocate for clean shores, healthy habitats and living waters in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Get involved at saveourshores.org