Thompson, Woolsey introduce amendment banning oil drilling off California's North Coast

Friday, 17 February 2012 02:11 Lake County News reports
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On Thursday Representatives Mike Thompson (CA-1) and Lynn Woolsey (CA-6) introduced an amendment to ban drilling on of California’s North Coast.

H.R. 3408, the Protecting Investment in Oil Shale the Next Generation of Environmental, Energy, and Resource Security Act would automatically open the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, Alaska’s Bristol Bay, Southern California and the Virginia coast for oil and gas leasing.

The bill also could potentially open up California’s North Coast to drilling – even if the state objects to offshore drilling in the region.

“Oil drilling is an important component of our energy solution, but we should only drill where it’s appropriate – and that means no drilling off the North Coast,” said Thompson. “The North Coast is one of the most productive ecosystems in the world, supporting salmon, Dungeness crab, rockfish, sole, and urchin populations. It is one of four major upwellings in all the world’s oceans, allowing nutrient-rich water to rise supporting an abundance of marine life.

Thompson continued, “If an oil spill were to occur in this area, not only would the economic damage to businesses and tourism be staggering, the rocky shores and rough seas would make a cleanup impossible. This amendment should be passed, and Congress must affirm that although oil is a part of our energy solution, we will not be opening up the North Coast for drilling.”

“The waters off California’s North Coast are some of the most abundant and exquisitely beautiful on the face of the earth,” said Woolsey. “Our commercial fishing industry depends on this thriving marine ecosystem, as do our research scientists. They are critical to our local economy, supporting thousands and thousands of tourism-related jobs. Who would visit the North Coast to look at an oil derrick? We must block any attempt to open these waters to drilling.”

In a decision to “trust but verify,” Thompson and Woolsey introduced an amendment clarifying that the North Coast may not be opened for drilling under H.R. 3408. Passing the amendment will affirm that there would not be North Coast drilling in the future.

According to a 2009 Energy Information Administration report, opening up waters that are currently closed to drilling would only yield an enough oil to reduce gas prices by no more than 3 cents a gallon – in 2030.

In Northern California, the potential economic impact of the region’s oil supply is even smaller: if all the recoverable reserves of Northern California’s Outer Continental Shelf were tapped, they would provide enough oil to fuel the U.S. for only 100 days.

Thompson and Woolsey have been a longtime opponent of efforts to open drilling off the coast of Northern California. In May he introduced a similar amendment to H.R. 231, the Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act that would affirm the North Coast would not be opened to drilling. In January, he reintroduced legislation to ban drilling off the coast of Del Norte, Humboldt, and Mendocino Counties.

Woolsey is the author H.R. 192, co-sponsored by Thompson and 53 others and widely supported in the local community, which would permanently protect the Sonoma Coast from oil and gas exploration by more than doubling the size of the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries.

Below is the full text of Thompson’s remarks on the House Floor introducing the amendment.

Mr. Speaker, I have an amendment at the desk.

Now, I request to yield myself as much time as I may consume.

I represent a coastal community and take seriously threats to our nation’s coastline. The Thompson/Woolsey amendment #127 would clarify that H.R. 3408 would not open drilling along the Northern California coast.

Proponents of H.R. 3408 claim that Northern California does not meet the minimum production potential to be eligible for offshore drilling. However, I do not simply want to take the House Majority’s word for it. In a Congress that has seen an unprecedented push to weaken safety standards for the oil and gas industry, I do not want to leave the door open for alternative interpretations. The people of the North Coast of California want to ensure that their environmentally unique and critical coast is protected. Period.

Because this amendment is a clarification of the legislation’s intent, there is no cost associated with it.

It is important to me and to my constituents that H.R. 3408 makes clear that drilling will not occur in the Northern California Planning Area – along the coasts of Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte, Sonoma and Marin counties.

The coastal area of my district is one of the most productive ecosystems in the world, and supports salmon, Dungeness crab, rockfish, sole, and urchin populations.

If an oil spill were to occur in this area, the environmental and economic costs would be staggering. Response and clean-up efforts would be hazardous and minimally effective given the rocky shores and rough waters.

Drilling for oil or gas off of California’s North Coast could cause serious harm to the unique and productive ecosystem and abundant marine life. The economic damage to businesses and tourism that rely on these pristine areas would also be substantial.

This amendment will simply clarify that this bill does not require drilling off the North Coast of California.

I urge a yes vote on this amendment and I reserve my time.

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Comments (9)Add Comment
guest    1
beach tar
written by a guest, February 17, 2012
You can see the tar ooze out of the rocks on the beach in Carpinteria. In the past, Chumash Indians used to build their canoes using this naturally occurring tar.

According to the Minerals Management Service, a United States government entity, tar and tar seepage are natural parts of the environment. It is evidenced that oil, tar and gas have occurred throughout the coastlines for thousands of years, and are particularly prevalent along the California coastline due to its mountainous regions. Scientists often cannot tell the difference between oil from naturally-occurring seeps and oil from offshore spills. Along the California coastline, there is a large amount of oil seeping naturally from the rocks under the ocean

This summer we will see $5-6 per gallon gasoline.
written by jmadison, February 17, 2012
NO drilling off California!!! Thanks Mike....Keep it in Texas with all the losers!
thank you Mike & Lynn
written by a guest, February 17, 2012
and thank you to all the intelligent people who understand the need to do the right thing and stand up for the environment.

Oldmossyback... the world would be less confusing if you stopped believing all that fictional sludge being shoveled over you by the extreme lunatic right. Try visiting reality for a change. Bring Randy Ridgel with you. The two of you can explore reality together. The scenery will be very different from what you've been used to, but the change will do you good.

Grace OMalley
You don't have to be
written by Grace OMalley, February 17, 2012
be from the east coast to remember the damage caused by an oil spill. Santa Barbara, 1969, was a loud wake-up call. Tar covered 35 miles of beaches. hundreds of animals and birds were affected. The city became a center of environmental activists, and the spill led to the first Earth Day. You'll find much more on the spill at
For the propagandists
written by Keith, February 17, 2012

Natural seepage occurs in the Santa Barbara Channel, and tar on beaches in Santa Barbara County is a well-known nuisance. However, environmental experts said they had never heard of a seepage as large as this week's in Northern California, which prompted authorities to close several San Mateo County beaches.

The oil is deposited in the oil as a natural part of nature. One only has to go to the pristine west coast beaches to find globs of oil balls. Say just over the bridge from SFO?
reality check time
written by Olmossback1, February 17, 2012
In 1944 my uncle was aboard ship in the Pacific, and said his ship sailed for three days straight without seeing anything but fuel slicks, and sludge islands of bunker fuel. Why isn't the ocean dead? according to you whining chicken littles that should have killed the planet. That doesn't even take into consideration the munitions and tools of war that went down with those ships and aircraft. Its time to wake up out of this environmental stupor we are in, and make work what we have now, not what we dream of later.
good work
written by politico, February 17, 2012
Those of us from the East Coast who have experienced globs of tar on the beach and dead fish washing up on the shore are grateful that there are those who have the good sense to attempt to protect our oceans from offshore drilling....Californians have come to take the pristine beaches here for granted but one BP type oil spill would change a lot of minds.
wake up!!!!!!!!
written by Olmossback1, February 17, 2012
Making ourselves energy slaves to some other country, or deciples of some environmental savior, is insane. Do any of you really think when the bungling boobs we seem to elect on a regular basis finally sell us out for good, the foreign power that takes over is going to "respect the earth". How can you think that by regulating our strengths out of existence is going to make us stronger. We are hoarding our resources, while using those of other countries. Can we possible be so foolish as to think other world powers aren't looking to do the same to us? The tree huggers seem to think we can simple tax, and regulate, dope growing criminals, but it is completely impossible to do the same to the oil, and gas industry.
the duet of evil
written by Olmossback1, February 17, 2012
Moron Mike, and Loony Lynn, are on a mission to lock up all the public lands, and all the coastline as well, so none of us can use it. What good is recreation land to us if only the ubber-fit, or young and strong, can access it ( and then only the edges of most of it). Everyone of these bills that restrict access by vehicle to public land is a slap in the face anyone that has an A.D.A placard on their vehicle, or is nearing his, or her, four score and ten. And, speaking of vehicles, how are we even supposed to get ourselves to these hallowed lands if gas, and diesel, is six or seven bucks a gallon. Is this another version of the late pipeline deal, where it was played by our president as an environmental issue, but, in reality it came down to the fact that the oil is currently be shipped by railroads owned by Warren Buffet.

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