SAN DIEGO (CN) – Standing in front of the picturesque San Diego harbor Monday, city council members called on the federal government to remove the eighth largest U.S. city from its list of potential offshore drilling sites, saying it will negatively impact military operations and tourism.
Councilwomen Lorie Zapf and Barbara Bry were joined by Councilman David Alvarez in calling for San Diego’s coastal waters to be protected from offshore oil drilling after the region made the Jan. 4 list of potential sites scoped out by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The California coastline has not had any new offshore drilling operations for three decades. The Trump Administration’s proposal would offer six new leases off California’s coast to oil and gas companies.
Zapf and Bry renewed their call made last year to former President Barack Obama to permanently withdraw federal waters off the coast of San Diego from offshore oil and gas leasing and prohibit future operations. Obama did not grant permanent protections for San Diego waters before leaving office, prompting the council members to call on President Donald Trump to do so.
The call from San Diego’s leaders follows that of other leaders across the state as well as pushback from Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who was able to get his state excluded from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s list of potential offshore drilling expansion sites.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra criticized the move to remove Florida from the list based on potential tourism impacts offshore drilling could have on the Sunshine State, noting based on that criteria, California should also be removed from the list.
A bipartisan host of other governors have also called for exemptions for their states from offshore drilling expansion.
California is the third largest oil producing state in the country, Zapf said Monday, with most oil extractions coming from inland Kern County.
“California does its share for oil production,” Zapf said.
Zapf called the Interior Department’s proposal to expand offshore drilling “ridiculous” and “overreaching” and said it will impact military personnel’s ability to do their jobs.
“Nothing should intervene with our military’s ability to train,” Zapf said.
Councilwoman Bry said expanding offshore drilling in San Diego would be “a bad business decision,” pointing out the nearly 46,000 maritime jobs and $14 billion in direct spending on the region produced by the industry.
She also noted San Diego’s aggressive Climate Action Plan, which legally requires the city use 100 percent renewable energy by 2035, a goal which would be put off by “backward thinking” when “new technology is already surpassing the mediocrity of fossil fuels,” Bry said.
Councilman Alvarez, whose city council district includes San Diego’s Navy base, said: “It’s not often that environmentalists and the military see eye to eye on issues and are in agreement that expanding drilling impacts their safety and our environment.”
The federal government is currently taking public comment on its offshore drilling proposal through March 9.