When the Department of Interior released an offshore leasing plan threatening California’s $42 billion ocean economy and 400,000 jobs in tourism, recreation and fishing, it was the first proposal opening shores to new oil and gas drilling in two decades.
The Trump administration’s proposal has been met with unyielding opposition, and a striking 69% of Californians oppose new offshore drilling. On February 3, hundreds of concerned residents — business owners, fishers, Indigenous leaders and conservationists, and artists — rallied at the Santa Monica Pier, ancestral home of the Tongva, to protest the federal proposal to open California’s shores. The rally coincided with a statewide day of action in cities from San Diego to Brea.
“Californians have protected their coastline for a reason,” said State Senator Ben Allen to the crowd. “This kind of drilling is bad for our economy and a blight on a treasured public asset.”
Community leaders from across the region joined elected officials to stand together against the assault on our coasts by the federal administration.
“The Pacific Ocean is a beloved relative to hundreds of Native Nations along the west coast and Indigenous Peoples throughout the Pacific,” said Angela Mooney D’Arcy, the executive director of Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples. “Indigenous Peoples turn to the ocean for spiritual, cultural, and physical sustenance. Sacred Places Institute stands with Indigenous Peoples around the world who have maintained, and continue to maintain, respectful relationships with the ocean for thousands of years.”
Air Quality and Spill Risks Threaten SoCal
The destruction of offshore drilling became a reality to Californians in a devastating 1969 spill off the coast of Santa Barbara that spewed more than 3 million gallons of oil into some of the nation’s most sensitive coastal habitat. “Offshore drilling directly threatens our ecosystem, our communities, and our economy. California communities are all too familiar with these risks, from devastating oil spills to daily toxic air pollution,” said Sarah Friedman, senior campaign representative with The Sierra Club. Sarah Sikich, vice president for Santa Monica-based Heal the Bay echoed the sentiment, “Oil and water don’t mix. With offshore drilling, it’s not a matter of if spill may happen, it’s when. The proposal poses a direct threat to California’s vibrant and valuable ocean environment.”
And after witnessing months of climate chaos across our state, from the back-to-back devastation of wildfires to mudslides, the need to move off fossil fuels is urgent. “The last thing we need is more oil and gas drilling, especially along on our fragile coastlines. Since 100,000 barrels spilled off Santa Barbara in 1969, we learned we must do better. Energy efficiency, conservation, and 100 percent clean renewable energy are the only way forward,” said Jack Eidt, co-founder of SoCal 350 Climate Action.
The great turnout on the coordinated day of action and widespread media coverage from the LA Times Daily Pilot to the Orange County Register demonstrates a unified stand against Washington’s plan to dramatically increase offshore drilling in Southern California and nearly all U.S. coastal waters.
Act Now to Voice Your Opposition
However, the fight is far from over. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is accepting public comments online through March 9. After scheduling only ONE public hearing on February 9, submitting your comments online is an urgent way to have your voice heard on this issue. Love our oceans? Tell our federal officials why, and send a clear message that Californians do not want or need new offshore oil and gas drilling. Just go here and click to “Comment Now!”
Once you have submitted your comments, share the link on social media with #ProtectThePacific to spread the message to your friends and family.