Mercury News: Editorial: Stop Trump from drilling for oil off California’s majestic coast

January 06, 2018

Editorial: Stop Trump from drilling for oil off California’s majestic coast 

By Mercury News & East Bay Times Editorial Boards |

PUBLISHED: January 6, 2018 at 8:30 am | UPDATED: January 6, 2018 at 3:15 pm

Remember the devastation of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill: Union oil’s inadequate safety precautions resulted in 3 million gallons of crude oil spewing into the Pacific Ocean, spawning what we now know as Earth Day.

Remember the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, the largest marine oil spill in history, killing 11 workers and releasing 4 million barrels of oil into Gulf of Mexico, causing $17 billion in damages to natural resources.

Then prepare to fight.

California has to block the Trump administration’s plan to not only permit but promote offshore drilling for gas and oil along our majestic 804 miles of coastline.

Other states should do the same. The plan announced Thursday for new drilling in nearly all U.S. coastal waters is both environmental and economic folly — especially in California, where the tourist economy is worth $20 billion a year.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the administration is “embarking on a new path for energy dominance in America, especially on offshore.”

It’s ludicrous. The United States can only achieve true energy dominance and security by reducing its dependence on fossil fuels. It should be making clean energy investments to try to catch up to China’s already massive efforts.

The Trump plan calls for 47 auctions of new oil leases from 2019-2024. Derricks will not appear quickly; today’s low oil prices make offshore drilling unattractive, especially considering the political and legal obstacles ahead. But oil companies play the long game.

Trump isn’t only auctioning off drilling rights. Last month the Interior Department rolled back the safety regulations put into place following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. And the president is seeking to shrink national marine sanctuaries such as Monterey Bay, the Channel Islands and the Greater Farrallones, which are protected under federal law from drilling.

This is the presidency of big oil.

California should meet the challenge with even greater determination. A place to start is state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson’s bill to block new leases for the construction of pipelines or other infrastructure in state ocean waters.

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