Cantwell, Murray: Don’t drill America’s “Left” Coast

Source: Seattle PI

Although Big Oil has enhanced clout on Capitol Hill, six Western senators —
including Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, D-Wash. — have reintroduced
legislation to permanently ban offshore drilling on the West Coast.

Cantwell and newly reelected Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., are the measure’s
main sponsors. The Bush Administration allowed decades-old moratoriums on
offshore drilling to expire in 2008.

“One of the lessons learned from the disastrous BP (Gulf) oil spill is that
without a fundamental transformation of the oil industry, another spill is
possible, even likely,” Cantwell said.

Offshore drilling has been a West Coast issue ever since a 1969 oil rig
blowout dumped 80,000 to 100,000 barrels of oil into California’s Santa Barbara
Channel, fouling waters and beaches and killing sea life.

Union Oil Co. President Fred Hartley fueled the controversy when he said: “I
am amazed at the publicity for the loss of a few birds.”

A 1988 accident of Grays Harbor, in which the barge Nestucca spilled 230,000
gallons of bunker spill, demonstrated how far a spill can travel. It oiled
beaches of Olympic National Park, and then moved north and fouled the coastline
of Canada’s Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island.

Washington’s coastal region generated an estimated $9.5 billion in economic
activity, with commercial and recreational fisheries supporting an estimated
16,000 jobs. Much of the state’s northern coast is part of a world-famous
tourism-recreation destination — Olympic National Park.

“More offshore drilling will not lower gasoline prices or reduce our nation’s
dangerous overreliance on foreign oil,” Cantwell added, “which is why we should
be focusing on the promising clean energy alternatives that are better for
consumers and canprovide long-term sustainable solutions to America’s energy

The legislation’s cosponsors include Murray, Oregon’s Sens. Jeff Merkley and
Ron Wyden, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. All are Democrats.