SACRAMENTO, Calif. February 1, 2018 – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today called on the Trump Administration to immediately withdraw its proposal to open California’s coast to new offshore drilling. In a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Attorney General Becerra underscores that the Administration’s proposal – known formally as the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program – would severely damage California’s economy and pose a dire threat to its environment. The letter is signed by a coalition of 12 Attorneys General, each of whom outlines the many harms that offshore drilling would inflict upon their respective states.
“Today, we send a clear message to the Trump Administration: drilling off of our shores is a non-starter,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Secretary Zinke exempted Florida from offshore drilling, and we demand nothing less than the same treatment – immediately. In California, we have 800 miles of pristine coastline. There should be no doubt that we are prepared to do what is necessary to defend every single one of those 800 miles, including going to court.”
In the letter, which follows an op-ed that he recently published in the New York Times, Attorney General Becerra makes clear that the stakes are high for California. He highlights that:
- California’s coastal economies annually generate hundreds of billions of dollars in wages nationally and nearly $2 trillion in GDP.
- California is the sixth largest economy in the world and home to the largest port complex in the nation—the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports, which are a gateway for the entire United States.
- California’s coastline supports commerce, tourism, recreation, fishing, navigation, marine transportation, public access, and abundant marine life. It is home to dozens of endangered or threatened species that would be put at risk from increased offshore oil and gas development, including the Coho Salmon, Southern Steelhead, Black Abalone, Leatherback Sea Turtle, Guadalupe Fur Seal, Blue Whale, Humpback Whale, Western Snowy Plover, and Marbled Murrelet.
- California is well acquainted with the dire impacts of an oil spill from a federal lease. The 1969 spill off the shores of Santa Barbara killed thousands of birds and marine mammals, suspended commercial fishing and severely harmed tourism. With many of California’s economic drivers concentrated along California’s coastline, another oil spill from an off-shore platform, pipeline, or barge would have a catastrophic impact on both the economies and natural resources of California and the Nation.
In issuing the letter to Secretary Zinke, Attorney General Becerra joins the states of North Carolina, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Virginia.
Since taking office, Attorney General Becerra has taken swift and broad action to protect the environment. He has filed several lawsuits against the Trump Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, and Department of Interior, including the most recent lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s decision to repeal critical hydraulic fracturing (fracking) regulations. Additionally, Attorney General Becerra opposed the Administration’s illegal attempt to suspend for two years the 2015 Clean Water Rule, which would protect California’s lakes, rivers, and streams from pollutants. He also joined, through an amicus brief, the City of Oakland’s efforts to prohibit for health and safety reasons the storage and handling of coal and petroleum coke at one of its port terminals.