In response to an outpouring of public opposition and strong objection from Washington’s Congressional delegation, Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke acknowledged the overwhelming opposition from Washington State leaders and residents to his proposal to allow offshore oil drilling!
After Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) raised concerns about the offshore drilling proposal at a congressional hearing yesterday, Secretary Zinke stated “I think I’m going to mark down Washington as opposed to drilling…I know where people are, and I certainly know where the state of Washington is. The state of Washington is deeply, passionately opposed to oil and gas drilling off their coast…Our proposal will have the interests of Washington reflected in that plan.”
Thank you to Governor Jay Inslee, Senators Murray and Cantwell, and every one of you that took the time to voice your concern for the proposal stood up for Washington’s coast! Your voices were heard in defense of our public lands . Washington Wild supporters sent out over 1,200 letters to elected officials opposing this proposal for our State. Together, our voices can make a difference.
This January U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had proposed a sweeping plan to open nearly all waters off the nation’s coastlines to oil and gas drilling, which originally including a major new lease sale off Oregon and Washington proposed for 2021. The proposal aimed to expand offshore drilling on over 90% of the Outer Continental Shelf along America’s coastline, which included Washington’s own wild and rugged coast. In northern Washington, this proposal included much of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, where the regulations currently prohibit “exploring for, developing or producing oil.”
This proposal put 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.
Early this year 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.”
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.
If you have a minute, consider sending a thank you email to Senator Maria Cantwell for her leadership efforts on this issue and other efforts to defend our public lands.