May 07, 2021

Rep. Mike Levin Introduces Bill to Ban New Offshore Drilling Leases Along Southern California Coast

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) introduced the American Coasts and Oceans Protection Act to prohibit any new leasing for the exploration, development, or production of oil or natural gas along the Southern California coast, from San Diego to the northern border of San Luis Obispo County. The House Natural Resources Committee announced it will hold a hearing on Levin’s bill and other offshore drilling legislation on Thursday, May 13, 2021.

“The Southern California coast is home to world-renowned beaches, cherished marine life, and billions of dollars in ocean-based economic activity that are central to our quality of life but are threatened by offshore drilling,” said Rep. Levin. “Oil spills from offshore drilling have done devastating damage to our coastline before, which is why Californians overwhelmingly support a ban on new drilling activity along our coast. My bill to ban new offshore drilling leases recognizes that it’s time to put our environment and our coastal economy first, not the fossil fuel companies that profit while polluting our coastline.”

In San Diego and Orange Counties, the ocean economy accounts for roughly $7.7 billion dollars in economic activity and sustains more than 140,000 jobs in coastal tourism and recreation. Fishing, tourism, and recreation along California’s coastline supports nearly 600,000 jobs and roughly $42.3 billion in economy activity. More than 4 million gallons of oil have been released into the Pacific Ocean as a result of the 1969 Santa Barbara blowout, the Refugio Beach spill of 2015, and other leaks from oil rig and pipeline activity, affecting more than 935 square miles of ocean.

As a member of the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, Representative Levin is a leader in the fight to combat climate change, protect the environment, and expand clean energy. With over 50 miles of beautiful California coastline in the 49th District, Rep. Levin is particularly concerned about protecting our beaches, oceans, marine life, and coastal businesses from future oil spills. One of the first bills he signed onto in the 116th Congress was the Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act, which sought to block new offshore drilling along the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines, as well as the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act to prevent drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

"The American Coasts and Oceans Protection Act will protect Southern California's coastal environment, economy and way of life from the harmful effects of offshore oil and gas development,” said Pete Stauffer, Environmental Director, Surfrider Foundation. “The Surfrider Foundation strongly endorses the bill and urges members of Congress to support this and other legislation to permanently ban new offshore drilling in U.S. waters."

“Our economy depends on clean beaches and a healthy ocean. The American Coasts and Oceans Protection Act will help protect the hundreds of thousands of jobs powered by the clean coast economy, while keeping our beaches free of oil and help to mitigate climate change, the impacts of which create major business risk,” said Vipe Desai, Founding Member, The Business Alliance for Protecting the Pacific Coast. “The consequences of offshore oil drilling like oil spills and exacerbated climate impacts like rising sea levels, are too much for coastal communities to bear, and small businesses and deserve permanent protections. Thank you, Rep. Levin, for leading the way and protecting our coast.”

“Permanently protecting our coasts from dirty and dangerous drilling is a crucial step toward addressing the climate crisis and protecting millions of jobs nationwide that rely on a clean coast economy,” said Oceana Campaign Director Diane Hoskins. “Oceana applauds Congressman Levin for introducing the American Coasts and Oceans Protection Act, which would permanently protect Southern California’s coast from new oil drilling. From toxic oil spills to accelerated climate devastation, we cannot afford any new offshore drilling. We must permanently end new leasing for offshore drilling and transition to clean, renewable energy sources like offshore wind to create jobs and power our clean energy future.”