Today, Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-23), a senior Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, highlighted a new report issued by the Democratic staff of the Committee on Energy and Commerce detailing a series of attacks on the nation's coastal and ocean protection laws by the 112th Congress.
According to the report, since January 2011 the House of Representatives has voted 297 times to undermine basic environmental protections, many of which have existed for decades and have been remarkably successful in reducing pollution in our nation's air, land, and water. Of the 297 anti-environment votes, 117 -- almost 40 percent -- were for policies that would undermine protection of America's coastal areas, including the coast of California.
In California, particularly on the Central Coast, we know that our coastal areas are key economic drivers," said Congresswoman Capps. "That's why we pushed so hard to enact laws, like the Clean Water Act and Coastal Zone Management Act, which not only protect our environment and quality of life, but also preserve our economically valuable coastlines. Yet the majority party has been relentless with their attacks on these laws, as well as the areas those laws help to defend, like the Santa Barbara Channel and North Coast. The issues facing our oceans and coasts are more pressing than ever, that's why we should be strengthening protections, not turning our backs on them."
Healthy oceans and coasts are vitally important to California's economy, environment and way of life. That's why Santa Barbara Channelkeeper and other conservation groups on the Central Coast have dedicated ourselves to protecting them," said Kira Redmond, Channelkeeper's Executive Director. "Our priorities--defending coastlines from oil spills, cleaning up polluted beaches and waterways, and protecting our oceans--are under attack by the House majority. They don't seem to grasp that California's ocean economy is the largest in the nation, contributing billions in revenue and supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs in industries such as tourism, shipping, fishing and boating. Why would any Member of Congress vote to put our precious oceans and coasts at risk? It just doesn't make sense."
The anti-coastal record of the 112th Congress revealed in this report is truly shocking," said Gordon Hensley, San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper. "The California economy and our quality of life depend to a large extent on a healthy ocean environment. San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper applauds the efforts of Congresswoman Capps and her colleagues for shining a bright light on the consistently partisan anti-ocean protection record of the current congressional majority. It is, however shameful how little that congressional majority values the contribution healthy oceans make to the weather patterns and general economy of the entire continent."
The new report finds:
The House has voted repeatedly to force new oil and gas drilling along the California coast, including in the Santa Barbara Channel, as well as in other coastal areas where drilling is not now currently permitted.
The House has voted 26 times to allow offshore drilling operations to meet weaker environmental and safety standards, including votes to weaken Clean Air Act protections for offshore drilling activities specifically off Santa Barbara and Ventura counties; limit environmental review of new offshore drilling projects; and to block minimum standards for blowout preventers and oil spill response.
The House has voted 24 times to block action to address climate change -- even though climate change could spell disaster for our coasts through significant sea level rise and ocean acidification.
The House has voted 20 times to undermine Clean Water Act programs and protections for coastal areas and nearby waterways.
The House has voted 16 times to weaken protections for fish and marine species, including votes to remove protections for salmon, sea turtles, sea otters, sea lions, and other species.
The House has voted repeatedly to cut funding for coastal protection. It voted to cut funding for the National Ocean Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service, as well as to block implementation of the National Ocean Policy, which President Obama established to improve the country's stewardship of the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes.