Still reeling from the oil spill that fouled local waters and coated wildlife, Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach city councils each passed resolutions Tuesday, Oct. 19, calling for limits on off-shore drilling.
The Huntington Beach declaration advocates for “a permanent ban on new offshore oil, gas drilling and similar exploration activities off our coasts.”
But Laguna Beach’s goes further, beefing up its 2017 resolution with a new demand to end all drilling, current and future.
“Laguna Beach now has one of the strongest resolutions in the state,” said Bill Hickman, regional manager for the Surfrider Foundation.
Huntington Beach is the 100th city in California to pass a resolution about drilling.
In Orange County, Costa Mesa and Dana Point have also adopted resolutions. Both came four years ago, after the Trump administration proposed more drilling in almost all federal waters. Surfrider is actively pushing Newport Beach council members to join that list, Hickman said.
Cities in California do not control the use of state or federal waters, so no city resolution on off-shore oil drilling carries any legal threat. But Miyoko Sakashita, oceans program director for the Center for Biological Diversity, said that even symbolic gestures can have power.
“While the state and federal governments have jurisdiction over offshore drilling, these resolutions communicate to policymakers that local interests are aligned against drilling,” Sakashita said. “They do have an impact.”
Although Huntington Beach’s message is not as stern as its southern neighbor’s, the resolution can still influence other decision makers, Sakashita added.
“I don’t think it’s commonly known that new drilling permits continue to be issued all the time,” she said. “But, ultimately, it is our position that Governor Newsom should cancel all existing leases. These platforms were built long ago and have outlived their lifespans.”
The five members of the Laguna Beach City Council passed the resolution unanimously. In Huntington Beach, five council members voted in favor of the declaration, with Mike Posey dissenting and Erik Peterson absent.
Originating from a pipeline running from the Port of Long Beach to an offshore platform known as Elly, the spill that hit Orange County this month initially was estimated to involve as much as 133,000 gallons of oil. That estimate was later downgraded to about 26,000 gallons by federal officials. An investigation into the cause continues.
The slick of crude oil touched Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach – threatening ecological preserves and launching a massive cleanup. Beaches were reopened last week. Initially, it was feared the closures could last for months.
“In a lot of ways, we dodged a bullet with this one,” said Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr, who with Councilwoman Natalie Moser put the end-drilling proposal on the agenda. “But we can’t be naive and think that it won’t happen again.
Laguna Beach activist Judie Mancuso, who heads up Social Compassion in Legislation, organized an anti-drilling rally on Monday that brought together local stakeholders – including Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen, Supervisor Katrina Foley, Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris and California State Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine).
Pointing out that oil spills impact the economy as well as the environment, Foley said that beach closures occurred “after nearly two years of a pandemic when people were finally getting back to work, businesses were finally open, and tourism was coming back to Orange County.”
Min said the amount of oil coughed up off the California coastline accounts for less than 0.3% of all U.S. oil production. “It’s not even a drop in the bucket,” he said.
Earlier this year, Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein teamed up on legislation to permanently establish a moratorium on oil and gas activities in federal waters off coasts of California, Oregon and Washington. And on Oct. 5, just days after the Orange County spill, Min said he planned to introduce legislation that would end all drilling in California waters, including under existing leases.
Whalen and Mayor Pro Tem Sue Kempf initiated the Laguna Beach resolution. “It’s a great first step in getting visibility for Senator Min’s proposed legislation,” Whalen said.
Whalen said he hopes the new city resolutions will inspire more communities to take a formal stand and spur legislative changes on the state and federal level.
“We might be able to get other coastal cities to consider it,” he said. “If you had Los Angeles or San Diego weigh in, then it starts to move the needle.”
Petrie-Norris agreed: “The show of unity from our local communities is an important part of mobilizing a successful movement. Citizens all across California are demanding an end to offshore drilling, and policymakers need to listen.”
Mike Beanan, co-founder of the environmental group Laguna Bluebelt, applauded the resolutions.
“The recent oil disaster brings us all together to protect our precious coves and tide pools. The ocean is the foundation of our climate and economy, and it brings us our air and rainwater,” he said.
“The fact that coastal cities are willing to band together to ban offshore oil drilling is a significant paradigm shift (after) centuries of us ignoring our collective discharges into the ocean,” Beanan added.
“The present crisis represents an inflection point where the health of the ocean ecology intersects powerfully with the health of the economy.”
Source : https://www.ocregister.com/2021/10/20/oil-spill-laguna-and-huntington-beach-both-pass-anti-drilling-resolutions/968