January 18, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, California Congressmen Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County), Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) led a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke opposing the Administration’s offshore drilling plan. The letter, which is signed by 36 Members of the California delegation, urges Sec. Zinke to remove California and other states from the plan citing his department’s rationale in exempting Florida. Local leaders from California and across the country have vocalized opposition to offshore drilling, citing considerable economic and environmental concerns.

In the letter, the Members write:

  • California coasts are highly reliant on tourism as an economic driver.  In fact, California’s ocean economy and the sector dependent on tourism and recreation are both larger than those of Florida. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in 2014, the ocean economy contributed $41.9 billion to California’s gross domestic product, nearly half of which came from the tourism and recreation industries. California’s ocean economy is unique and so important that in 2015 the federal government did an entire study showing the important of it not just to California, but to our nation.
  • California and other states also cannot afford to allow expanded offshore drilling that will threaten the vitality of these industries. In 1969, we saw the Santa Barbara oil spill spew approximately 4.2 million gallons of oil into the ocean, devastating recreation, property, the fishing industry, and wildlife. If we open the Pacific to additional leases, it is not a question of if, but when the next disaster will occur.
  • You noted that your decision to exclude Florida was due in part to the concerns of Florida government officials. We agree that this decision must consider “local and state voices,” but this sudden exemption to Florida, without any action to address the previous opposition from the state of California, makes a mockery of the requirements of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. Last week, the governors of California, Oregon and Washington again issued a statement expressing our states’ firm opposition to the expansion of oil and gas leases in the Pacific. Additionally, dozens of Members of Congress from California, Oregon, and Washington sent you a letter in August 2017 conveying the same position. Under your rationale, California and other similarly situated states must also be exempted from the Five-Year Plan. Otherwise, this appears to be a purely politically-motivated decision.