Cantwell, Murray, Senate Colleagues Urge President Obama to Protect West Coast from Offshore Drilling

Senators Call for Action to Safeguard Our Environment and Coastal Economies

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA), along with Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) wrote to President Obama, urging him to exercise his authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to permanently withdraw the West Coast from consideration for new oil and gas leasing.

The Department of the Interior’s 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Proposed Program does not include lease sales off of the West Coast. President Obama has not allowed new lease sales in the Pacific during his presidency. However, a moratorium is not currently in place.

“Opening up the coast to more fossil fuel development poses a threat to our oceans and the coastal economies that depend on them,” the Senators wrote. “We appreciate your Administration’s ongoing commitment to keep new West Coast lease sales off of the table... However, without a permanent withdrawal, we cannot be certain that the coastline would not see new oil and gas development in the future.”

Senators Cantwell, Murray, Boxer, Feinstein, Wyden and Merkley previously introduced the West Coast Ocean Protection Act in an effort to permanently prevent offshore drilling on the outer continental shelf of California, Oregon and Washington. A prohibition would protect the coastal economies of the three states, which are collectively worth $44 billion yearly and support nearly 650,000 jobs.

Full text of today’s letter can be found here.