Board of Supervisors to lobby against offshore drilling

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Feb. 13 to lobby against a Trump administration proposal that would clear the way for oil drilling along U.S. coastal waters, including sites off Southern California.

Chairwoman Kristin Gaspar will send a letter urging President Donald Trump to reject any proposal that would allow offshore drilling in the waters off California due to concerns that it would endanger the state’s economy and ecology. The letter will also be sent to the San Diego congressional delegation.

“I know the county has taken positions in previous years to not support any offshore oil drilling off the California coast,” Supervisor Greg Cox said. “The main difference in this one is going to be to put it into the legislative agenda that we have.”

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke last month proposed five-year leases for exploration of off-shore oil reserves, including sites stretching from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico, many of which have been closed to drilling since the mid-1980s.

California Gov. Jerry Brown was quick to condemn the proposal, issuing a joint statement with the governors of Oregon and Washington calling the idea a reckless threat to the coastal environment. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, both Democrats, have also blasted the proposal.

San Diego County’s message to Trump will come from members of his own party: the board is entirely made up of Republicans.

Opposition has come from across the political spectrum. The city councils of Encinitas and Solana Beach took votes last month to oppose new drilling.

Earlier this month, Gaspar joined Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, Assemblymen Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, and Todd Gloria, D-San Diego, and San Diego City Council members Lorie Zapf, a Republican, and Georgette Gomez, a Democrat, at a news conference hosted by environmental group Oceana to oppose Zinke’s plan.

Brady Bradshaw, a local Oceana organizer, said local opposition to drilling has historically sent powerful messages up the government chain.

“The bipartisan opposition to drilling in coastal areas has really been a huge movement that doesn’t really leave anyone out,” he said. “Most governors in the U.S. in coastal areas are opposed to offshore drilling now, and I believe that is a result of city councils speaking in opposition.”

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution Feb. 13 supporting a ban on new offshore oil and gas drilling.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl recommended backing a ban that would apply to new leases and the construction of any new offshore oil platforms in state and federal waters off the California coast, saying offshore oil and gas drilling and exploration “threaten the Pacific Ocean and its life systems by putting it at risk of catastrophic oil spills and other damage.”

No new federal offshore oil or gas leases have been granted off the California coast since 1984.

— City News Service

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