Congress Committee Debates Oil Drilling Ban for Southern California

The Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources hosted a virtual legislative hearing for a bill banning new leases for offshore drilling off the coast of California.

WASHINGTON D.C.一 On May 13 the Congressional Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources heard testimonies for Congressional bill H.R.3053, the American Coasts and Oceans Protections Act.

The bill was introduced by 49th District Congressman Mike Levin on May 7 and would ban any new leasing for exploration, development, or production of oil or natural gas along the Southern California coast.

The hearing was titled Protecting Coastal Communities and Ocean Resources from Offshore Drilling, and heard about six bills from across the United States all opposed to banning new offshore drilling along the country’s coast.

Throughout the hearing witnesses and Committee members heard and gave testimonies in favor of ending new offshore drilling or providing arguments against it on the basis of the need for energy.

Levin’s bill would directly apply to the Southern California coast from San Diego to the northern border of San Luis Obispo County.

“The Southern California coast is home to world-renowned beaches, cherished marine life, and billions of dollars in ocean-based economic activity that are central to our quality of life but are threatened by offshore drilling,” said Levin in a May 7 press release. “Oil spills from offshore drilling have done devastating damage to our coastline before, which is why Californians overwhelmingly support a ban on new drilling activity along our coast. My bill to ban new offshore drilling leases recognizes that it’s time to put our environment and our coastal economy first, not the fossil fuel companies that profit while polluting our coastline.”

Levin called on Terra Lawson-Remer, supervisor for district 3 for San Diego County as a witness for the bill. Remer spoke about the dependence of California’s economy on tourism, and fishing that is susceptible to harm from oil spills or other incidents that can come from offshore oil drilling.

Remer reminded the Committee of the Santa Barbara oil spill in 1969 that was catastrophic to California and resulted in the end of drilling in state waters.

“We know there is no way that an oil and gas economy that’s really quickly facing global economic obsolescence can by any means compensate for the heart and soul of California’s coastal economy,” said Remer. “… also our investments in green and renewable energy that are so vital for our economic future.”

Remer went on during questioning to defend the use of renewable energy.

“There’s no question that the growth of renewable energy more than compensates,” said Remer. “As I mentioned in my testimony the cost of solar has decreased 89 percent in the last few years alone and we are well on the way for the cost of renewables to be significantly lower than the cost of gas and that’s because we are making investments in those sectors and we’re not only decreasing the cost of renewables we are increasing jobs in a new green economy that’s putting California on the cutting edge of being prepared to be competitive in a global economy.”

Opponents of the bill cited the need of cost-effective energy sources for American families in a time of need and economic depression.

“Today’s hearing is particularly tone-deaf to the needs of American families at a time when there are lines of cars at gas stations stretching blocks, this is reminiscent of the Carter administration,” said member Congressman Pete Stauber from Minnesota. “…We should be discussing how we should harness domestic resources to provide secure affordable energy for American families.”

Representatives stated that California already has a dependence on imported energy and the removal of offshore drilling would increase the issue. According to Representative Paul Gosar from Arizona, California imported nearly 30 million barrels of oil from Colombia just last year.

Representative Garret Graves of Louisiana led the opposition to the bill, pointing out the flaw of renewable energy technology that has not been tested and the danger of using tankers that could also have an environmental impact.

“All this talk about this great technology and its affordable and, this what we need to be doing and it’s not even in place in California,” said Graves “Number two I want to remind folks that California is the most dependent state upon imported energy, meaning energy coming from other countries or other states if we’re not going to produce, then what it does is it requires that it be brought in by tanker…tankers are a less safe mechanism of transportation, than let me actually quote Energy Secretary Granholm who just said days ago that pipes are the safest way to transport energy and so she’s talking effectively about using a less safe way to transport that would potentially have environmental consequences on the state of California.”

The committee has not made a decision since the hearing on May 12, to learn more or watch the full hearing visit,



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