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COMPLETED ACTION: Protect Washington’s Coast from Offshore Oil Drilling

Posted on Jan 23, 2018 in Action Alerts, Conservation News

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This January U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is proposing a sweeping plan to open nearly all waters off the nation’s coastlines to oil and gas drilling, including a major new lease sale off Oregon and Washington proposed for 2021. The proposal aims to expand offshore drilling on over 90% of the Outer Continental Shelf along America’s coastline, which includes Washington’s own wild and rugged coast. In northern Washington, the proposal includes much of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, where the regulations currently prohibit “exploring for, developing or producing oil.”

In addition, the coast of the Olympic Peninsula is home to the coastal strip of Olympic National Park, most of which is protected as Wilderness. Areas like Second Beach, Ruby Beach and Lake Ozette are a major source of tourism and economic benefit for local economies. Other conservation lands on the Washington coast include San Juan Islands National Monument, Quillayute Needles National Wildlife Refuge, Copalis National Wildlife Refuge and Willapa National Wildlife Refuge. Drilling just offshore of these national treasures is unacceptable and irresponsible.  

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Our pristine Olympic Coast is no place for drilling. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is accepting comments until March 9, 2018. By completing this comment form, you will comment directly to the BOEM stating opposition to the proposed offshore drilling plan. Additionally, your members of Congress and Governor Inslee will be cc’d on the message, further enforcing their own efforts against this proposal. Together we will advocate for our Olympic coast, our local economies, and our public lands legacy.

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This proposal puts our nation’s coastal communities, beaches, and marine ecosystems at risk of a catastrophic oil spill. Expanding offshore drilling could damage precious marine ecosystems, as well as industries such as coastal tourism, recreation, and fishing that generate billions of dollars for our nation’s economy.  The catastrophic effects of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill showed why we must stop drilling our ocean for oil and transition to a clean energy economy based on renewables and conservation.

Senator Maria Cantwell called for removing the Pacific Northwest waters from the proposal. “Offshore oil and gas development poses a direct threat to Washington state jobs in coastal communities like Grays Harbor, Ilwaco, Aberdeen, and Port Angeles. The Washington coast economy relies on healthy, sustainable oceans which support fisheries, seafood processing, recreation, shipbuilding, trade, transportation, and tourism…Pacific Northwest waters should be removed from any further consideration of the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2019-2024.”

Photo Courtesy of Andy Porter Photography

Governor Jay Inslee has voiced opposition to offshore drilling on the Olympic Coast directly to Secretary Zinke’s office and by sending the Secretary a joint letter with Oregon and California . “We will continue advocating for Washington to be removed from the plan. We stand ready to provide any additional information about our coastline’s pristine natural beauty and the economic backbone it provides for communities. This offshore drilling proposal is a serious threat to one of our state’s greatest assets, and we will continue to fight this proposal as long as it takes.”

Additional Washington officials who released statements condemning the move included Sen. Patty Murray as well as Republican Dave Reichert, who said “this moves America in the wrong direction.”

Write your elected officials and let them know you oppose the proposed plan to expand offshore oil drilling!

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