California Lawmakers Reject Offshore Drilling

Thursday, Jan 7, 2010  |  Updated 5:18 PM CDT
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California Lawmakers Reject Offshore Drilling

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SACRAMENTO, California, September 4, 2008 (ENS) - The California Legislature passed two joint resolutions last week to protect California ocean waters and coast.

The lawmakers approved A.J.R. 51, a resolution to protect California's coastline from expanded offshore drilling, and A.J.R. 66, a resolution to strengthen fishery management guidelines.

"By passing A.J.R. 51 and A.J.R. 66, California's legislature has demonstrated its commitment to protecting California's beautiful beaches, coastlines and wild places," said Gina Goodhill, ocean associate with the nonprofit group Environment California.

"We are thrilled that California continues to act as the model for what good federal ocean protection should look like," she said.

A.J.R. 51, introduced by Assemblymember Pedro Nava and adopted on Sunday, requests that the United States Congress extend the 27 year old moratorium on offshore oil drilling through fiscal year 2009 and beyond.

"The California State Legislature is sending a strong message that California and our nation's coastline is an international treasure and we're not going to sacrifice it to President Bush and his ill-conceived scheme," said Nava, a Democrat who represents Santa Barbara.

Nava served as a member of the California Coastal Commission from 1997 until his election to the California State Assembly in 2004.

"I've been fighting the oil companies and the Bush Administration's attempts to spoil and soil California's coast for many years," Nava said. "Our beaches have been stained and marine life killed because of oil spills. Offshore oil drilling will not reduce the price of gasoline. It will put our coastline at risk, endanger tourism, fisheries, and coastal recreation."

The resolution cites the high environmental risk of expanded drilling, along with the economic importance of a healthy coast and fishing industry, as reasons to continue the current ban on offshore drilling.

The resolution also opposes adoption of federal oil legislation that would open state coasts to expanded offshore drilling. It comes after President George Bush's decision in July to lift the executive ban on offshore drilling. A congressional moratorium on offshore drilling expires October 1.

Congress must now decide whether they will renew the 27 year old moratorium when it expires, or whether legislators will end the moratorium and allow expanded drilling in coastal states like California, Virginia, and Florida.

This year marks the 39th anniversary of the Santa Barbara Oil Spill, Nava pointed out. "More than four million gallons of crude oil choked 35 miles of California's coastline causing a path of destruction never before seen in our nation's history. The carcasses of dolphins and seals washed ashore and countless birds, fish and other wildlife wore black shrouds."

"The spill and its aftermath galvanized the country, raised environmental awareness and was the catalyst to the modern environmental movement in the United States," he said.

A.J.R. 66, introduced by Assemblymember Julia Brownley and adopted on Thursday, supports efforts to strengthen national fishery management principles to protect and enhance fisheries off the California coast.

The proposed changes come from the National Marine Fishery Service; they would strengthen fishery management guidelines under the reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

Brownley, a Democrat for whom environmental protection is a priority, represents Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Encino, Hidden Hills, Malibu, Oak Park, Oxnard, Pacific Palisades, Port Hueneme, Santa Monica, Tarzana, Topanga, Westlake Village and Woodland Hills.

Fishery management on both state and national levels is becoming an increasingly serious problem, says Environment California.

In California, there is only adequate data on 30 percent of fish species. Of that 30 percent, nine percent are overfished. Nationally, the biggest problem facing fish populations is overfishing.

{Photo: Sunset off the coast of Santa Barbara, California by vgm8383}

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.

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