May 14, 2010


All of the senators representing west coast states -- California, Oregon and Washington -- have introduced a bill banning Pacific offshore drilling.

Cantwell appeared at a news conference at the Capitol with Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, both of California, as well as Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon. Two other sponsors, Sen. Patty Murray, and Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, did not attend.

Feinstein recalled "thick black tar"despoiling the waters after the 1969 oil spill near Santa Barbara, which helped spawn the modern environmental movement.

Absent a permanent ban on drilling, "there is no guarantee whatsoever that this will not happen again," Feinstein said.

I remember the Santa Barbara oil spill too. I took the picture at the top of this post at Surfers' Point in Ventura, less than 20 miles south of Santa Barbara. The beaches in this area are home to endangered birds like these:


The thing is, that Santa Barbara spill took place 40 years ago and it's still not completely gone. If you take a walk on the beach by UCSB in your bare feet, you'll come home with blobs of tar on your feet. The brown pelican is finally making a comeback after fighting back from the Santa Barbara oil spill and then the impact of DDT on its eggs. At sunset, you can see pelicans skimming the shore, looking for that last school of fish before the sun goes down. They're magnificent.

Our coastlines are our first non-renewable resource, not oil.

Advocates for more domestic drilling say the proposed West Coast ban would lead to even more imported oil.

"This is more of the same that we've had for 30 years" under the federal ban, said Dan Kish, senior vice president of policy for the Institute for Energy Research, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group that believes tapping into America's petroleum potential is one answer to energy independence.

Kish said it was particularly galling that California wants to cordon off its coasts when it's the nation's largest energy user. He said polls show the majority of American favor offshore drilling.

Blocking new oil explorations, Kish said, may simply send more ocean tankers carrying foreign oil toward California and elsewhere.

Mr. Kish, we will have to figure it out. I'm just not willing to sacrifice this...


...for the risk of losing it.

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