Capps Introduces Legislation To Permanently Protect California's Coast From New Offshore Drilling
Today Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-23) announced the reintroduction of the California Ocean and Coastal Protection Act, legislation to permanently protect California's coast from the dangers of new offshore drilling. Congresswoman Capps introduced this bill in the 109th Congress, H.R. 4782, but the legislation was blocked by the Republican Congressional leadership. U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein also introduced companion legislation in the Senate, S. 151, earlier this year.
"I am pleased to be reintroducing this much needed legislation in a new Congress under Democratic leadership," said Capps, a Member of the House Committees on Energy and Commerce and Natural Resources. "Our coast is a major engine for California's economy as well as a precious environmental resource. Over the last 25 years our state has thrived under the important protections provided by the federal bans on new coastal drilling, yet those protections have come under increasing threat recently. The Bush Administration's failed energy policies have spawned high gas prices and failed to end our country's addiction to fossil fuels. Even worse it has virtually given the oil and gas companies free reign to push a reckless agenda that includes opening all of our coastlines to new drilling. Given this increased threat posed to the sanctity of our sensitive marine and coastal areas, I believe it is necessary to reintroduce this bill and ensure protection for California's coast. Enacting this legislation is essential to ensure that we don't face the threat of new drilling off our shores."
Today the federal waters off California are protected by a moratorium on new oil and gas leasing. Since 1982 Congress has prevented the use of federal funds for new drilling activities off our state. This funding prohibition is currently included in the draft version of H.R. 2643, the FY 2008 Interior-Environment Appropriations bill, though oil and gas industry supporters have indicated that they will attempt to remove this critical coastal protection provision during final consideration of the bill. The California Ocean and Coastal Protection Act would provide permanent protection for California's coast from future drilling and would prohibit the harmful inventory of Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) resources from being conducted off California's coast. The 2005 Energy Bill signed into law by the President included provisions to conduct an inventory of oil and gas resources in the OCS. This inventory would be performed with seismic guns that could have devastating impacts on marine life and would be detrimental to the local economy.