U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have introduced the West Coast Ocean Protection Act to permanently prohibit offshore drilling on the outer continental shelf off of Washington, Oregon, and California.
Cantwell and Murray were joined on the bill by Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
The legislation, first introduced in 2010, would amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act “to permanently protect the $44 billion coastal economies of the three states, which support nearly 650,000 jobs in California, Oregon, and Washington,” said the Washington senators in a press release.
The Interior Department has prevented drilling in these waters in its five-year drilling plans, which extend through 2022. However, a permanent ban has not been signed into law.
“Today, the West Coast supports thousands of jobs from fisheries, trade, tourism and recreation — which could all be devastated by an oil spill. We must permanently ban offshore drilling on the West Coast to protect our coastal communities, economies, and ecosystems against the risk of an oil spill and we must make investments in clean energy alternatives to help meet America’s energy needs,” said Cantwell, ranking member of the Senator Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
“There is far too much at stake to allow offshore drilling on the West Coast and in particular, off the coast of Washington. We need this permanent ban to safeguard our coastal environment and our state’s economy, including outdoor recreation, fisheries, and so much more,” said Murray.
Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) and 14 cosponsors.