Oregon Senate Votes to Protect Coast from Offshore Drilling
Press Release Date: February 18, 2010
Location: Salem, OR
SALEM, OR – Today the Oregon Senate 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 Pacific Project Manager Ben Enticknap testified in support of the Bill before the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday. The committee advanced HB 3613 on a unanimous vote. The Oregon House of Representatives passed the bill on February 8th.“Oregon is becoming a leader in a world desperate for good stewardship,” Enticknap said. “The people of Oregon bear the risks of drilling while big oil reaps the benefits, and this bill says drilling should only follow behind good science, and only when the people’s interests are protected.”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).HB 3613 received widespread support in the legislature, and Rep. Ben Cannon and Sen. Jackie Dingfelder (both D-Portland) led the charge to shepherd the legislation through the House and Senate. 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. “Offshore drilling presents great long-term risks to local communities for the sake of short-term profits to oil and gas producers,” Enticknap said. “The real goal should be sustainable living by maintaining the health and biodiversity of our coastal and ocean ecosystems and shifting to clean, renewable energy sources.”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.