Huntington Beach Becomes 100th West Coast Community to Oppose New Offshore Drilling in Wake of Oil Spill
Press Release Date: October 20, 2021
Location: Huntington Beach, Calif.
On Wednesday morning just after midnight local time, the city of Huntington Beach became the 100th community along the West Coast to pass a resolution formally opposing new offshore drilling. These 100 communities represent more than 26 million residents. The resolution comes weeks after a major oil spill took place off the coast of Huntington Beach, where a ruptured pipeline spewed oil into the Pacific Ocean, resulting in environmental and economic impacts. The Huntington Beach City Council resolution calls for a permanent ban on new federal oil and gas leasing in all U.S. waters, including off the coast of California.
Congress is currently negotiating the budget reconciliation bill, also known as the Build Back Better Act. The draft includes a permanent ban on any future offshore oil and gas leasing in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico.
“Californians from all levels of government are sending a clear message to Washington: ban new leasing for offshore drilling and permanently protect our coast. The recent oil spill off Southern California highlights the need to move away from dirty and dangerous offshore oil and gas, and toward clean, renewable energy sources,” said Melissa Morris, southern California field representative at Oceana. “Dead birds and fish washed ashore, beaches closed, boaters couldn’t get in or out of nearby harbors, and the surrounding area remains closed to fishing. Oil disasters hurt our environment and our coastal economies, and local communities have been speaking out against expanding offshore drilling for years. I applaud Huntington Beach for joining the fight.”
“The latest oil spill made it clear the only foolproof way to protect our ocean and coastal economy is to end offshore drilling,” said U.S. representative Mike Levin. “The vast majority of Californians agree it’s time to end this dangerous drilling, which is why I’m proud to have helped secure language in the Build Back Better Act investing in our coastal communities by prohibiting new drilling activity along our Southern California coast. We must act before we face the consequences of yet another catastrophic spill.”
“In the wake of the Orange County oil spill which has threatened its economy, wildlife, protected lands, and waters, as well as its sense of community, Huntington Beach is making clear they understand clearly that drilling is just the first step to spilling,” said U.S. representative Alan Lowenthal. “I applaud the city for joining millions of other Californians in telling Sacramento and Washington once and for all – no new offshore oil drilling. Not today. Not ever.”
“After every major spill, we are led to believe industry and regulators have a firm grasp on how to prevent future disasters – until the next disaster,” said Huntington Beach council member Rhonda Bolton. “Time and history have shown that offshore drilling simply cannot be done without massive spills. The costs far outweigh the benefits, so in my mind, enough is enough.”
“Banning drilling off the coast of Huntington Beach is long overdue,” said Huntington Beach council member Dan Kalmick. “As a long-time board member of the Bolsa Chica Land Trust I have seen firsthand the incredible environment we have and its importance to Huntington Beach’s economy and vitality. As we forge a new path, it will be critical that we also support working men and women transitioning their skills into new trades. Together, we can ensure that we protect our environment and quality of life for everyone.”
“Tonight, I’m proud that Huntington Beach passed a resolution to support an end to new offshore drilling,” said Huntington Beach council member Natalie Moser. “All levels of government, including the local level, must join together to advocate for the current and future health of our environment, economy, and community. As we’ve learned, ‘Where they drill, they spill.’ I believe it’s time to responsibly transition to clean energy and implement a broad, long-term approach to end and decommission oil infrastructure in California.”
“The message that was sent today is clear – West coast communities do not want offshore oil drilling threatening their communities any longer,” said Vipe Desai, founding member of the Business Alliance for Protecting the Pacific Coast. “The economic impact of the most recent oil spill off Huntington Beach will take months to fully understand, but we know far too well the damage toxic oil spills pose to coastal economies. Time and again, small businesses that rely on clean beaches and a healthy ocean have been forced to bear the brunt of the fossil fuel industry’s mistakes. We commend Huntington Beach for becoming the 100th municipality on the West Coast to say no to more dirty and dangerous drilling off our beaches.”
Oceana recently released an analysis detailing the economic benefits of banning new offshore drilling in California. Specifically, the analysis looks at data for ocean-dependent jobs and revenue from fishing, tourism, and recreation along the California coast. The analysis found that ending new leasing off the coast will safeguard California’s clean coast economy, which collectively supports around 654,000 jobs and over $50 billion in GDP. Nationwide, the U.S. clean coast economy supports around 3.3 million American jobs and $250 billion in GDP.
Oceana’s analysis also found that ending new leasing for offshore oil and gas in the United States could prevent over 19 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions as well as more than $720 billion in damages to people, property, and the environment nationally. Oceana is calling on President Biden and Congress to permanently protect our coasts from offshore drilling to ensure the future of our coastal economy that depends on a healthy ocean and help address the growing climate crisis.
As of today, nationwide opposition and concern over offshore drilling activities includes:
- Every West and East Coast governor, including California, Oregon, Washington, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine
- Nearly 400 local communities
- Over 2,300 local, state, and federal bipartisan officials
- West and East Coast alliances representing over 56,000 businesses, including the Business Alliance for Protecting the Pacific Coast
- Pacific, New England, South Atlantic, and Mid-Atlantic fishery management councils
- Commercial and recreational fishing interests such as the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Snook and Gamefish Foundation, Fisheries Survival Fund, Billfish Foundation, and International Game Fish Association
- California Coastal Commission, California Fish and Game Commission, and California State Lands Commission
- More than 120 scientists
- More than 80 former military leaders
- Department of Defense, NASA, U.S. Air Force, and Florida Defense Support Task Force
For more information about Oceana’s efforts to stop the expansion of offshore drilling, please click here.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-third of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 225 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit www.usa.oceana.org to learn more.