Congressman Harley Rouda (CA-48) joined 30 Members of the California House Delegation to express concern about the Trump Administration’s reported plans to develop and expand oil and gas leasing along the U.S. Pacific Coast. In a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, the Members expressed their strong opposition to any new oil and gas leasing off the coast of California and demanded to be informed of any such plans being developed by the administration.
The Members wrote, “There is a reason why every single coastal governor along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, both Republican and Democrat, stand opposed to offshore drilling, as the inevitable spills and the variety of other onshore and offshore impacts from oil and gas drilling have no place along our coasts. It is critically important for coastal communities whose livelihoods are built around fishing, tourism, and recreation that there is no risk of oil leaks or spills that could negatively impact these ocean dependent economies and fragile marine ecosystems.”
The Trump Administration’s 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Program, released in January 2018, opened more than 90 percent of the country’s coasts to oil and gas leasing, including the entire Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic coasts, as well as the Eastern Gulf of Mexico after the current Congressionally-mandated moratorium ends in 2022.
The letter highlights that media reports indicate that President Trump and the Department of the Interior (DOI) are continuing to work toward expanding offshore oil and gas leasing into the Eastern Gulf off Florida’s West Coast and possibly other areas originally sought in the administration’s program released in 2018. A June 10, 2020 Politico article stated that “The Trump Administration is preparing to open the door to oil and gas drilling off Florida’s coast — but will wait until after the November election to avoid [election] blowback…”
The Members wrote, “While the article could not confirm nor deny that the DOI was continuing to pursue OCS leasing off California, the State’s inclusion into the 2018 program, as well as statements from current and former administration officials, is evidence of the Trump administration’s interest in opening up federal waters off California’s coast and remains a cause for concern.”
The letter concludes with the Members expressing their opposition to any new oil and gas leasing off the California coast and demands that DOI answer the following questions:
- Is the Department still developing, or planning to release, a new Program that will allow for new oil and gas leasing on the OCS inconsistent with the 2017-2022 Five-Year Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Program?
- If this is the case, does it contain new lease sales for areas in the Pacific off California’s coast?
The letter was led by Congressman Lowenthal (CA-47) and Congressmen Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Jared Huffman (CA-2), and Mike Levin (CA-49).
This article was released by the Office of Congressman Harley Rouda.