California’s economy, the sixth largest in the world, is inextricably tied to clean coastal waters and beaches, as well as a stable climate. Our state boasts one of the most spectacular coastal areas in the nation. Californians and people from all over the world – over 150 million visitors annually – come here to fish, hike, kayak, surf, wine and dine, and enjoy our beaches. Our coastal economy contributes more than half a million jobs and $40 billion annually to the state. Ocean-based recreation and tourism alone contribute almost $20 billion annually and provide more jobs than any other state in the country. Meanwhile, California’s commercial and recreational fisheries are valued, respectively, at roughly $7 billion and $2 billion annually. All of this far outweighs any potential jobs or economic gains that could ever be provided by offshore fossil fuel production.
Drilling increases the likelihood of a devastating oil spill, which can shut down fisheries, close beachside businesses, and deter campers and tourists from visiting our beautiful coastline. California has, in fact, taken a position to intentionally forgo any revenue from new offshore oil and gas development for over 50 years due to the unacceptably high risk, and has instead focused on developing clean renewable energy.
In 1969, Santa Barbara experienced one of the nation’s worst oil spills. During that incident, an estimated 4.2 million gallons of crude oil were spilled into the sea, impacting two hundred square miles of ocean and 35 miles of California coastline. The 1969 oil spill not only killed thousands of birds, fish, and marine mammals, but also had a devastating impact on commercial fisheries, tourism, and coastal property values. Despite the progress that has been made since then around drilling safety, Santa Barbara experienced another disastrous incident in 2015 when an offshore platform service pipeline ruptured, again exposing local marine life and communities to the negative and lasting impacts of a massive oil spill. These threats to our wildlife and way of life are unacceptable.
California is on a path towards clean, renewable energy that creates jobs, bolsters the economy, and protects our coastline, natural and economic resources, and marine ecosystems from the risks of oil spills. We, therefore, strongly support efforts underway at the local, state, and national level to oppose new or expanded offshore oil and gas development.