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State legislation would ban offshore drilling

Jeremy C. Ruark / The News Guard

The Oregon Senate has voted to pass legislation to ban offshore oil and gas drilling in Oregon’s Pacific Ocean waters.

Senate Bill 256 indefinitely extends Oregon’s existing offshore drilling moratorium and prohibits any activities or new infrastructure within state marine waters that would support potential oil drilling in federally managed waters off the Oregon Coast along 3 to to 200 miles of shore.

Introduced by lead authors Senator Arnie Roblan (D- Coos Bay), Representative David Gomber (D-Central Coast) and Representative David Brock Smith (R-Port Orford), the bi-partisan legislation enjoys 19 additional co-sponsors and memorializes the new state policy opposing offshore drilling issued by Governor Kate Brown via Executive Order 18-28 last October.

“For generations, Oregonians have defended the environment,” Roblan said. “Any oil drilling off the Oregon Coast could destroy the things we love in the state of Oregon – our pristine public beaches, and the local industries like fishing and tourism that drive our coastal economy.”

“The message is loud and clear — Oregon won’t jeopardize our treasured coast, incredible ocean wildlife, or vibrant fisheries with the risk of an oil spill,” Oceana Pacific Campaign Manager and Senior Scientist Ben Enticknap said. “We applaud the Oregon Senate for voting today to protect the Oregon Coast.”

The Trump Administration has proposed potential new offshore drilling leases in federal waters off the coasts of Oregon, Washington, and California. In response, state leaders, local municipalities, and businesses throughout the West Coast are taking action to safeguard their communities and coastal economies from the risks of offshore oil drilling.

SB 256 reflects the sentiments of a large number of Oregonians; five coastal cities and the City of Portland have already adopted local resolutions opposing offshore drilling, and more than 110 Oregon businesses have joined the Business Alliance to Protect the Pacific Coast.

California, Delaware, Florida, Maryland and New Jersey already have passed similar laws. Other states, including Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and South Carolina also have bills under consideration that would ban or restrict offshore drilling.

Senate Bill 256 now heads to the Oregon House of Representatives.