Wieckowski joins more than 225 coastal state legislators on letter to Interior Secretary opposing offshore oil drilling

March 5, 2018

Sacramento – In response to the Trump Administration’s announcement of increasing offshore oil and gas drilling, Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), chair of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, and 226 legislators from 17 coastal states signed a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke in opposition to the plan. The letter was released today at a Bureau of Open Energy Management in Olympia, Washington.

“We are encouraged by your recent action to remove Florida’s coasts from the Proposed Leasing Program, a decision based on potential threats that offshore drilling would impose on coastal tourism, the recreational economy, and the hundreds of thousands of jobs that depend upon it,” Senator Wieckowski and the other state legislators said in the letter. “Given that one state has been removed from the program, we strongly urge you to grant other states the same opportunity to protect their economy and coastal and marine resources.”

Coastal communities provide 45 percent of our nation’s gross domestic product. California, Oregon and Washington make up the fifth largest economy in the world, a level of prosperity that would not be achieved without their ocean-dependent industries, the letter notes. 

The potential for irreparable damage caused by oil exploration, construction and drilling accidents can devastate coastal communities and ecosystems for years.

“After the Exxon Valdez oil tanker crashed in Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989, 11 million gallons of oil spilled and polluted over 1,000 miles of coastline,” according to the letter. “This spill decimated the environment, killing thousands of salmon, otters, and eagles, as well as a quarter million seabirds.” 

Citing the important economic and environmental factors of coastlines, the letter urges Secretary Zinke to “at least grant all coastal states with the opportunity to opt out of these leases.”

California legislators joining Wieckowski in signing the letter are Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León, Sen. Ben Allen, Sen. Ricardo Lara, Sen. Robert Hertzberg, Sen. Henry Stern and Assembly members Laura Friedman, Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, Mark Stone and Phil Ting.

The full text of the letter can be found here.

Senator Wieckowski represents the 10th Senate District, which includes southern Alameda County and parts of Santa Clara County.