Soapbox

Speak out against oil drilling off California’s coast

A line of offshore oil rigs stand in the Santa Barbara Channel. The Trump administration proposes to open the California coast to oil exploration.
A line of offshore oil rigs stand in the Santa Barbara Channel. The Trump administration proposes to open the California coast to oil exploration. Los Angeles Times

Sacramento is where Californians will make our stand to protect the Pacific and other oceans from the Trump administration’s dangerous offshore oil drilling plans. The only federal hearing in our state is on Thursday, and we intend to make it count.

 
Opinion

Californians are strongly opposed to Trump’s proposal to offer decades-long oil and gas leases off our coast for the first time since 1984. That bipartisan stance recognizes that drilling threatens coastal communities and marine life, as well tourism, fishing and recreation.

Polls showed 69 percent of Californians opposed offshore drilling even before Trump revealed his reckless plan to roll back the offshore-drilling safety standards adopted after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster.

We must protect not just the Pacific coast, but the entire U.S. coastline by rolling back this extreme proposal and the carbon bomb it would trigger. Climate change threatens our 1,100 miles of coastline with rising seas and the water supply for our growing population.

Trump’s offshore leasing plan would allow drilling in almost all federal waters, including in the treacherous Arctic, where a major oil spill would be impossible to clean up. When the Center for Biological Diversity crunched the numbers, the results were alarming. Drilling and burning all the recoverable oil and gas under this plan would release 50 billion tons of carbon dioxide pollution into our atmosphere and oceans, the equivalent of running 10.6 billion cars for a year.

The plan would also cause more than 5,500 oil spills, including 657 spills in the Pacific, releasing about 4 million gallons of crude oil, which can end up coating our beaches and wildlife. That spill total is about 10 times what was predicted under the current plan approved by the Obama administration, which Trump is trying to replace. Our analysis is based on routine offshore-drilling operations from 1974 to 2015 and excludes catastrophic spills, which are always a possibility with this dirty and dangerous industry. This is a risk that the world’s sixth largest economy can’t afford to take.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has already announced his intention to remove the waters around Florida from the plan, largely as a gift to that state’s Republican governor. The governors of California and almost every other coastal state have all asked for the same thing.

That’s how extreme this plan is. And that’s why we need to send Trump and his industry-backed appointees the strong, clear message that our oceans are not for sale.

Following Saturday rallies in coastal cities throughout California, we’re expecting hundreds of people from around California to descend on Sacramento and thousands more to send in their comments opposing the plan by the March 9 deadline. So join us on the north steps of the state Capitol on Thursday as we make our stand to protect our oceans and climate, now and for generations to come.

Miyoko Sakashita is the oceans program director at the Center for Biological Diversity, based in Oakland. She can be contacted at miyoko@biologicaldiversity.org.

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