Merkley, Wyden lead effort to ban offshore drilling in reconciliation bill

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden are co-leading an effort amongst West Coast senators urging Senate leadership to include the West Coast Ocean Protection Act in the “Build Back Better” budget reconciliation bill.

In a letter written to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the senators argued that action must be taken after numerous oil spills in recent years have been harmful to communities in Oregon, California, and Washington.

The West Coast Ocean Protection Act prohibits new oil and gas offshore drilling along the West Coast.

“The West Coast Ocean Protection Act has been introduced every Congress since the Deepwater Horizon disaster in April 2010. Our states have unfortunately suffered numerous oil spills in recent history. For example, in 1991, over 900,000 gallons of oil spilled in Washington State; in 1969, over 4 million gallons of crude oil spilled in Santa Barbara, California; and, just this month, 126,000 gallons of oil spilled in Huntington Beach, California. In 2018 and 2019, the amount of oil spilled per barrel produced on the Outer Continental Shelf increased sixfold compared with the previous two years,” the senators wrote.

“Budget reconciliation provides us with an opportunity to construct the energy policy of the future and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. In taking advantage of this opportunity, we must reflect the will of our constituents and permanently ban new offshore oil and gas drilling along the West Coast. Doing so would help build a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.”

Joining Merkley and Wyden in co-leading the letter are U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Alex Padilla (D-CA).

You can read a copy of the letter here.

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