Rep. Lois Capps (CA-24) led a letter from members of the California Congressional Delegation to U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, urging her and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to prohibit any new offshore oil and gas lease sales in the Northern California, Central California, and Southern California Outer Continental Shelf Planning Areas by excluding these planning areas from the draft proposed 2017-2022 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program.
The leasing program document develops the next schedule of potential offshore oil and gas lease sales.
The letter was signed by 35 members of the California Congressional delegation, including Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. The letter comes in response to a request for information from the Department of Interior, as it begins to examine the next schedule of potential offshore oil and gas lease sales in federal waters.
The letter calls for continued focus on developing clean, renewable sources of offshore energy, rather than expanding oil and gas development, and notes the known risks of expanding offshore drilling far outweigh the potential benefits.
“Californians have repeatedly spoken out against new offshore drilling,” the electeds wrote. “Since 1969, 24 city and county governments have passed anti-drilling measures and the State has enacted a permanent ban on new offshore leasing in state waters. Serious accidents and environmental damage can and do occur at offshore drilling rigs. These spills and leaks, air and water pollution, and the industrialization of the shoreline threatens public health impairs marine resources and wreak havoc on our economy, especially the state’s critically important tourism, fishing and recreation industries, which inject billions of dollars into the California economy every year.”
The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) updates its Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program every five years. The development of the next five-year program, slated for 2017-2022, is underway. The letter was submitted as part of the 45-day comment period, which closes on July 31.
Capps has been a leader in Congress, fighting to stop offshore drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf. For example, she has introduced H.R. 2486, the California Ocean and Coastal Protection Act, which would ban new exploration and drilling for oil and gas off the California coast.
Read the letter here.