A brown pelican tries to raise its wings as it sits on the beach at East Grand Terre Island along the Louisiana coast after being drenched in oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. An April 20, 2010 explosion at the offshore platform killed 11 men, and the subsequent leak released an estimated 172 million gallons of petroleum into the gulf. Photo: AP
Oil drilling is not healthy for America's coastal waters, nor is Trump administration policy that rides roughshod over states, 37 Democratic senators said Tuesday in a blunt reprimand to U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke...
The letter to Zinke comes less than a week after Zinke announced that 90 percent of the outer continental shelf, including waters off the West Coast, would be opened to oil and gas leasing.
Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, D-Wash., are on the letter, along with senators from California, Oregon and Hawaii.
"The draft proposal is an ill-advised effort to circumvent public and scientific input and we object to sacrificing public trust, community safety and economic security for the interests of the oil industry," said the senators, a group including Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.
"The governors of New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Oregon, Washington and the Attorney General of Rhode Island are all formally opposed to new leasing off their respective shores."
The Democrats left out Florida's Republican Gov. Rick Scott, a Trump backer, who has loudly objected to Zinke's proposed lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico.
A few politicians have applauded Zinke's action. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, praised the proposal, which would begin with lease sales in the Chukchi and Beaufort Sea waters of Arctic Alaska.
The senators countered, telling Zinke on Tuesday: "Especially in the harsh and fragile Arctic, where your agency has predicted a 75 percent chance of a major oil spill, proposing 19 new leases is the height of irresponsibility."
Ongoing impacts of climate change have become most apparent on America's coasts, from rising sea levels to the shrinking of the Arctic ice pack no longer protecting native coastal villages in Alaska from storms off the Bering Sea.
"The nation's coasts are already bearing the consequences of climate change through rising sea levels, coastal erosion and increased storm surges and flooding," the senators told Zinke.
"We should not open all previously closed outer continental shelf areas to fossil fuel extraction and further endanger our climate, coastlines, communities and economies."
Zinke has been hit by protests, not only over offshore drilling but his recommendation to slash the size of Utah's new Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent, and to cut 1 million acres out of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
The potential for offshore oil leases is expected to generate a political backlash, jeopardizing several Republican members of Congress in California who represent coastal districts. A big 1969 oil spill in the Santa Barbara Channel helped launch the modern environmental movement in America.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican, represents a portion of the Washington Coast and the mouth of the Columbia River.
By Joel Connelly, SeattlePI
Published 1:43 pm, Tuesday, January 9, 2018
original story HERE
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