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Gulf Coast Oil Spill’s Approaching Landfall Reveals Need for Congressional Moratorium on New Offshore Oil Drilling, Congressman Garamendi Says

April 29, 2010
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek, CA) today warned lawmakers of the devastating consequences of offshore oil drilling after reports indicated that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is likely to reach the Gulf Coast tonight. In 2009, then-Lieutenant Governor Garamendi, as chair of the California State Lands Commission, cast the deciding vote that blocked new offshore oil drilling in California.

"Sadly, the people of the Gulf Coast are now learning what offshore oil drilling reaps: the destruction of natural preserves, the ruination of coastlines, and the disruption of ocean-based economies," said Congressman Garamendi. "This marks a turning point in our national discussion on new offshore oil drilling. Those calling for 'drill, baby, drill' need to start including the corollary, 'spill, baby, spill'."

The 'Deepwater Horizon' oil spill covers at least 600 square miles and an estimated 1.5 million gallons of oil have spilled since an explosion on April 20th. Eleven workers on the platform are missing and presumed dead. At least ten wildlife refuges are likely to be impacted, potentially wasting billions of dollars in coastal restoration, and 40 percent of U.S. wetlands are at risk. Closure of the oil spill could take weeks or months.

"This oil spill is a clarion call to renew the Congressional offshore oil drilling moratorium that served our country well for 26 years," Congressman Garamendi added. "To those who say the technology has improved, to those who say it can’t happen here, well, it already has."

In January 2009, then-Lieutenant Governor, in a two-to-one decision at the California State Lands Commission, voted to block new drilling at the PXP platform off the coast of Santa Barbara. During an attempt to bypass the longstanding independent authority of the State Lands Commission, Garamendi led the fight to stop what would have been the first new offshore oil drilling lease in more than four decades in California. The California Assembly ultimately defeated the workaround by a 28-43 vote.

"Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has renewed his attempt to force a law through the California legislature to allow PXP to drill for oil off the Santa Barbara coast. My response to the Governor’s first attempt to open the California coast to new drilling was clear last time – 'No way, it’s too risky,'" explained Garamendi. "The California legislature must reject Governor Schwarzenegger’s ill-advised drilling proposal, and Congress must pass a Congressional moratorium on all new oil drilling off America’s coast. We must also force all existing oil wells to employ maximum safety systems."