Congressman Garamendi Relieved that California not Included in List of Federal Offshore Oil Drilling Locations
"United Front" Required to Keep California’s Coast Pristine, Garamendi Says
WALNUT CREEK, CA – Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek, CA), a former Deputy Secretary of the Interior under President Bill Clinton, expressed relief that California is not on the list of proposed federal offshore oil drilling locations announced by President Barack Obama and Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar today.
"Today’s offshore oil drilling announcement is a victory for California’s pristine coastline," Garamendi said. "For now, our oceans will be spared the encroachment of new drilling that could potentially devastate natural habitats and ruin the tourism, fishing, and other ocean-based economies that millions of Californians rely upon."
Devastating oil spills from recently built offshore oil rigs are still common. Just last year, a massive oil spill from an offshore oil rig near Australia lasted nearly three months, spewing at least six million gallons of oil over 9,000 square miles.
"For more than four decades, a large majority of local, state, and federal California officials have presented a near-united front against new offshore oil drilling, and it is this impressive show of force, along with the federal moratoriums, that has protected our coast for so long," Garamendi added. "If we are going to guarantee that our grandchildren inherit the same beautiful coast that has helped draw so many Californians to call our state home, we cannot allow any cracks to form in our resolute opposition to new offshore oil drilling."
As chair of the California State Lands Commission (SLC), then-Lieutenant Governor Garamendi cast the deciding vote blocking what would have been the first new offshore oil drilling in California in four decades, arguing that concessions in the proposal were unenforceable and that it would send a message to the federal government that California is comfortable with further drilling off its coast. When Governor Schwarzenegger attempted to bypass the authority of the SLC through the legislature, Garamendi helped lead the fight to block his efforts. The California Assembly ultimately rejected the proposal by a 28-43 vote.
In 2008, Congress allowed the federal moratorium on offshore oil drilling to lapse, opening up America’s coast to new drilling for the first time since 1981. Congressman Garamendi supports reinstituting the offshore oil drilling moratorium.