Local leaders call for ban on offshore drilling
Local leaders are calling for the protection of Southern California's beaches and diverse ecosystem by putting an end to offshore drilling.
“How many (spills) does it take before we realize that there is no safe way to extract oil and gas from the ocean?” asked Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath at a Tuesday press conference at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas.
Rep. Mike Levin, D-Dana Point, agreed.
“Ban all offshore drilling period,”Levin said.
It’s time to pass the American Coasts and Oceans Protection Act, Levin said of a bill he introduced to Congress back in May.
“It would prohibit any new leasing for the exploration, development, or production of oil or gas along the southern California coast from San Diego to the northern border of San Luis Obispo County,” Levin said.
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At the Tuesday press conference, Levin said traces of toxic oil from the Orange County oil spill could eventually affect North County beaches.
“It’s inevitable that as the oil moves south that some de minimis amount will get down here, but the question is how much and when,” he said.
“Our coastal marshes and lagoons here in Encinitas and all along our coast are particularly susceptible to this harm,” Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespeare said.
She urged residents to support Levin’s bill.
“The pipeline that ruptured was over 40 years old and this may portent more oil spills because of this old infrastructure. It's a reminder that we need to ban all oil drilling from the west coast,” she said.
Levin said it’s time to phase out existing drilling along the West Coast as it poses a threat not only to the environment, but to hundreds of businesses along the coast.
He says the ocean economy in San Diego and Orange counties account for more than $7 billion and sustain more than 100,000 jobs in coastal tourism and recreation.