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September 23, 2021

Council voices opposition to offshore drilling

WATSONVILLE — The City of Watsonville joined more than 150 municipalities across the country in opposing expanded offshore drilling, after President Donald Trump signed an executive order in April calling for its reevaluation.

On consent agenda, the Watsonville City Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday.

Trump’s executive order encourages the departments of the Interior and Commerce to reevaluate “energy exploration and production” in U.S. offshore areas, including the Arctic’s outer continental shelf.

In May, Secretary of the Department of the Interior Ryan Zinke signed an order directing the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to develop a five-year plan for oil and gas exploration in offshore waters, while reconsidering a number of regulations governing those activities.

“This executive order starts the process of opening offshore areas to job-creating energy exploration,” Trump said after he signed the executive order. “It reverses the previous administration’s Arctic leasing ban, and directs Secretary Zinke to allow responsible development of offshore areas that will bring revenue to our Treasury and jobs to our workers.”

Watsonville’s resolution states that by expanding offshore oil and gas drilling, it will threaten “marine wildlife, human health and climate,” citing an oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1969 and an oil pipe burst in the same area in 2015.

No new offshore drilling leases have been granted in California state waters since 1969, nor in Pacific federal waters since 1984, according to the ocean advocacy group Save Our Shores.

“As a leader of a coastal conservation nonprofit with a mission to steward clean shores, healthy habitats and living waters in our Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, it is particularly gratifying to see the City of Watsonville unite and take a stand against potential future threats to our Sanctuary,” Katherine O’Dea, executive director of Save Our Shores, stated in a press release. “Environmental policy coming out of D.C. these days is imprudent at best, so action by our local governing bodies is one of our best lines of defense.”

Ashley Blacow of the Monterey-based nonprofit Oceana, thanked the city council for considering the resolution.

“By adopting this resolution, the City of Watsonville can really be a powerful voice in telling Washington that California’s coastline is not for sale,” she said.


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