By Don Horsley and David J. Canepa
Drilling for oil off the coast of California has been something most people thought had been forbidden for decades. When the issue was recently revived as a possibility by the current federal government administration, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors decided to join almost every other California jurisdiction in fighting back against the idea. A resolution was approved unanimously at the Jan. 23 board meeting supporting a continuing ban on new offshore oil and gas drilling, fracking and other well stimulation in federal and state waters.
We join Gov. Jerry Brown, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the state Lands Commission, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the California Coastal Commission in condemning the latest move by the White House to send the state backward rather than forward.
Sen. Feinstein has urged every county in California to adopt similar resolutions to make a clear and decisive statement that we are united in our opposition to new offshore oil drilling leases.
Suddenly, the “drill baby, drill” slogan is back as the federal government seeks to expand offshore drilling for oil and gas.
In California, however, the state has moved consistently away from offshore oil drilling for nearly 50 years after a massive oil spill in 1969 off the coast of Santa Barbara contaminated coastal waters and caused catastrophic economic and environmental damage. The spill sparked the creation of Earth Day and the modern environmental movement.
Today, new federal offshore oil and gas leases have not been granted off the coast of California since 1984.
Why? Because we recognize the harm it has created in our past and the potential for disaster in the future. California is about green energy now. In fact, San Mateo County is one of the leaders in the state in providing its residents with renewable energy through the formation of Peninsula Clean Energy.
San Mateo County is also currently suing 37 of the world’s biggest oil and coal companies claiming fossil fuel development has led to climate-related problems on the coast.
Our county also faces more damage from sea level rise than any county in California.
We are battling climate change in San Mateo County and California and will continue to despite the oil industry and White House viewing our coastal waters as nothing but a source of money.
The San Mateo County coastline is one of the greatest stretches of virtually untouched beaches in the world. It is home to the Fitzgerald Marine Preserve, Thornton State Beach, Pillar Point Harbor and a vibrant commercial and recreational fishing industry. Our coastal waters are home to a vast array of wildlife including fish, whales, sea turtles and birds that depend on a healthy and clean environment.
We cannot afford the risk from oil spills and other damage that offshore oil and gas drilling and exploration poses. Expanding offshore drilling is a threat to marine wildlife, human health and the climate.
Offshore drilling undermines the state’s efforts to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and moving toward renewable energy.
The federal government needs to recognize the potential of green energy, the jobs it will create and the environment it will save.
Expanding offshore oil drilling in California simply is not an option.
Supervisor Don Horsley represents District 3, which covers most of the San Mateo County Coast. Supervisor David Canepa represents District 5, which includes the coast north of Pacifica to the San Francisco border.