A bill that would permanently ban offshore oil and gas drilling is gaining steam in the Oregon Legislature. The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee hosted a public hearing today on Senate Bill 256, which would make permanent the state’s existing ban on offshore oil and gas drilling.
The bipartisan bill – introduced by Sen. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, Rep. David Gomberg, D-Central Coast, and Rep. David Brock Smith, R-Port Orford, as well as 19 other co-sponsors – would repeal the 2020 sunset date for the current drilling moratorium covering Oregon’s Territorial Sea, which extends 3 miles from the shore. It also would prohibit building new infrastructure that would support oil drilling and other related activities in state and federal waters, which combine to extend 200 miles off the coastline.
“The Oregon Coast’s economy and way of life depend on the thousands of fishing, tourism and recreation businesses in our communities,” Roblan said. “This bipartisan legislation builds on a proud history of coastal protection. It also will protect our existing economic drivers. Oil drilling isn’t economically viable for our coastal communities. It’s bad for the environment we all cherish. It does not reflect the Oregon Way that we embrace in coastal communities.”
With the passage of this legislation, Oregon would join a wave of numerous other coastal states opposing offshore drilling. The federal government released a proposal last January that would open 90 percent of United States waters up to oil and gas drilling. To date, Port Orford, Newport, Lincoln City, Toledo, Yachats and Gold Beach all have passed resolutions opposing new drilling. The Siletz Tribal Council, Port of Toledo and Port of Newport also have passed resolutions.
More than 100 Oregon businesses – from seafood restaurants to surf shops and hotels – have joined the Business Alliance for Protecting the Pacific in opposition to offshore oil drilling. According to the National Ocean Economics Program, Oregon’s ocean economy is worth $2.5 billion annually and supports 33,000 jobs. More than 25,000 of those jobs are in tourism, recreation and fishing. Those sectors stand to lose the most from an oil spill.
Information provided by Oregon Democrats