Oregon House Votes to Protect Coast from Offshore Drilling
Press Release Date: February 8, 2010
Location: Salem, OR
The Oregon House of Representatives today passed House Bill 3613 which would prohibit leasing for purposes of exploration, development or production of oil, gas or sulfur in Oregon’s territorial sea.
Oceana’s Vice President Jim Ayers testified in support of the Bill before the House Environment and Water Committee last month. Oceana also joined with commercial and recreational fishing groups, coastal businesses, local leaders, and conservation organizations in a letter of support for the measure, which would protect Oregon’s ecologically and economically valuable ocean ecosystems from oil spills and other impacts of offshore drilling (letter attached).
“Offshore drilling is an incredibly risky proposition and would be bad business for Oregon. Local communities and ocean ecosystems bear all the risk while multi-billion dollar oil companies reap all the rewards,” said Ben Enticknap, Oregon resident and Pacific Project Manager for Oceana. “This bill not only establishes a needed precautionary approach for oil drilling in Oregon, it also makes sure that it is the people of Oregon, and not Big Oil, who will have control over weighing the risks and benefits of any future offshore drilling decisions.”
A previous moratorium on offshore oil activities in Oregon expired on January 2, 2010. House Bill 3613 would extend that moratorium through the decade, with a sunset clause set for January of 2020. While there are no imminent offshore oil activities planned, the moratorium provides needed protections before any such activities would occur, a precautionary approach applauded by many, including Oceana.
“Our rich coastal and ocean ecosystems provide countless opportunities for commercial and recreational fishing, tourism and jobs, and are a big part of the reason why many of us live here in Oregon,” said Ben Enticknap, Oregon resident and Pacific Project Manager for Oceana. “We applaud the leadership of Representative Cannon and others in the legislature to protect Oregon’s oceans and the coastal areas from unnecessary and unacceptable risks of offshore drilling.”
Oceana works to protect ocean ecosystems across the nation from the risks of offshore drilling, particularly the biologically rich and ecologically sensitive areas of the Arctic Ocean. Oceana has also called for a move away from carbon-based fuels and towards clean, renewable energy sources like offshore wind. Oil and other fossil fuels are the primary agents of greenhouse gas emissions, which are already changing the planet’s climate and raising levels of acidity in the ocean. Oil drilling also brings the inevitable risks of spills and accidents.
“There is absolutely no justification for the long-term risks of oil drilling for the sake of short-term economic gain; instead, Oregon has a real chance to embrace the enormous potential from offshore wind and other sustainable, renewable energy projects that do not threaten Oregon’s amazing ocean ecosystems,” said Enticknap.
With strong bi-partisan support from the House, the bill will now move forward to the Oregon Senate.