Central and South Coast residents take justified pride in our region's tremendous natural beauty -- from the Los Padres National Forest to the Channel Islands National Park, and from rugged coastlines to rolling hills of open space. Like many environmentalists, I believe that environmental protection and healthy natural resources, like clean air and water, are essential parts of long-term economic growth.
That's why I have long fought to prevent more potentially disastrous oil drilling off our coast. And in the wake of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, I supported legislation to overhaul offshore drilling safety and environmental rig standards, hold oil companies accountable for their spills, and improve oil spill prevention and response technologies. I authored bills to establish a nonpartisan, independent Commission to investigate the tragedy in the Gulf, to provide the Commission with the power to issue subpoenas, and to protect the long-term health of the workers cleaning up the mess.
As a member of the Natural Resources Committee, I've led the fight to fully fund our national parks, forests, and other public lands so they can be enjoyed by citizens today and protected for our children and grandchildren. I've also authored legislation passed into law to restore and protect the Piedras Blancas Light Station in coastal San Luis Obispo County.
And I have consistently supported policies to keep our oceans and coasts strong and healthy. For example, my legislation to establish environment-based educational programs and hands on learning experiences for students, teachers and communities was approved by the House of Representatives, and my legislation to fund protection of coastal areas, including those on the Gaviota Coast, from harmful development, is now law. And I led the fight to successfully kill an oil industry effort -- supported by then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay -- granting special protections for manufacturers of the gasoline additive MTBE which was polluting drinking water supplies across the country, including in Cambria and Oxnard.
I am proud of my work with groups like the Environmental Defense Center, the Trust for Public Land, Community Environmental Council, SLOSEA, and other advocacy groups in our area. And I will continue to join local leaders to promote innovative, locally based approaches that protect our environment and enhance our economy.