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Offshore drilling banned in Oregon


King tide at Horsfall Beach. Photo: Susan Ferguson

Oregon has said ‘no’ to offshore drilling.

Democratic Governor Kate Brown recently signed Senate Bill 256, indefinitely extending Oregon’s moratorium on offshore oil drilling in state marine waters (0 to 3 miles from shore) and prohibiting activities or new infrastructure that would support oil drilling in federal waters offshore Oregon (3 to 200 miles from shore).

Introduced by lead authors State Reps. David Gomberg (D-Central Coast) and David Brock Smith (R-Port Orford), and State Senator Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay), the bi-partisan legislation was widely supported in the House and Senate.

The new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2020 and puts into action Brown’s Executive Order 18-28 that made it the official policy of the state of Oregon to oppose offshore oil drilling.

While there has been no drilling offshore of Oregon for decades, President Donald Trump’s administration has proposed potential new offshore drilling leases in federal waters off the coast of Oregon, Washington, and California. A state moratorium on drilling took effect in 1989 after the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Oregon’s oil and gas reserves off the coast would meet nationwide demand for about a week, according to an estimate by Oceana, an international advocacy organization dedicated to ocean conservation.

Oregon joins six other coastal states that have passed offshore oil drilling prohibitions; an additional seven are currently considering similar legislation.