Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A move by the Trump administration to roll back landmark environmental policy intended to ensure vigorous scrutiny of federal infrastructure projects has struck alarm in the hearts of California conservationists, particularly those striving to safeguard North Coast waters from offshore energy exploration and production.
Proposed changes to the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act would have sweeping effects nationwide, wherever there is federally built, funded or permitted construction or activity. Examples include mining on federal lands, construction of federally funded highways, or work on interstate gas pipelines or federal dams. But on the North Coast, where residents enjoy some of the most scenic and productive ocean waters on Earth, a coastline already subject to renewed drilling pressures and proposed wind generation facilities may be at greater risk if the NEPA revisions go through, experts say.
“Obviously, it’s going to have dramatic impacts on the whole offshore drilling equation,” said Richard Charter, senior fellow with the Ocean Foundation and a Sonoma Coast resident.
That’s especially true given increased instability in the Middle East due to tension between the United States and Iran, which could move the White House to try to fast-track plans to reopen the North Coast to oil drilling, he said.
“It’s quite frightening,” said Cea Higgins, executive director of Coastwalk California, headquartered in Sonoma County.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10571585-181/experts-fear-trumps-weakening-of
Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The House of Representatives passed three amendments on Thursday imposing one-year bans on offshore oil drilling on the Pacific, Atlantic and eastern Gulf of Mexico coasts, potentially restoring the safeguard that protected California’s coast for more than a quarter century.
The three bipartisan votes came on amendments to the funding bill for the Department of Interior and other agencies and are protected from a line-item veto by President Donald Trump, who has proposed an aggressive expansion of oil and gas development in the nation’s offshore waters.
It also may not need approval in the Republican-controlled Senate, which will produce its own Interior Department appropriations bill.
“This is the congressional moratorium coming back,” said Richard Charter of Bodega Bay, a veteran anti-oil drilling activist. “Today’s been a miracle, big time.”
The House amendments would prevent the Secretary of Interior from spending any money on pre-leasing or leasing activities related to selling offshore drilling rights to energy developers.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9724004-181/house-approves-measures-that-would
Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
To attend the protest, take the bus!
A throng of protesters, including state lawmakers and North Coast activists, is expected to rally in Sacramento preceding the Trump administration’s only California public meeting on a controversial offshore oil drilling plan covering most of the nation’s coastal waters.
State Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, said he expects more than 1,000 people to attend the anti-drilling rally at 1:30 p.m. Thursday on the north steps of the Capitol Building. The demonstration is sponsored by a coalition called Protect the Pacific.
Senate Democrats Scott Wiener of San Francisco, Henry Stern of Canoga Park and Assembly Democrats Jim Wood of Healdsburg and Monique Limon of Santa Barbara and Republican Brian Maienschein of San Diego plan to attend.
Following the rally, participants will march three blocks to the location of a Bureau of Ocean Management public meeting on the offshore oil drilling plan released last month by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. It ignited complaints from federal, state and local officials on both coasts and across the nation.
The meeting runs from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, 828 I St.
Zinke’s plan calls for 47 potential sales of oil drilling rights from 2019 to 2024, with six along the California coast, where energy development has faced bipartisan opposition since the Santa Barbara oil spill in 1969.
Read more at http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/7941235-181/oil-drilling-protest-in-sacramento
Tom Molanphy, SF WEEKLY
Nearly 98 percent of 2.4 million people surveyed told the government to leave our national monuments alone.
As soon as President Trump signed his executive order in April to review 27 national monuments, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had his summer travel plans booked. Zinke would fish, kayak, and hike through our nation’s most beautiful landscapes to determine if they were better off being felled, drilled, or fracked. Six of the monuments set for review are in California: Berryessa Snow Mountain, Carrizo Plain, Giant Sequoia, Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and San Gabriel Mountains. But the Feds are not touching these Golden State treasures without a California-sized fight.
“This has been nothing short of a cynical assault on our country’s shared value of protecting our public lands,” Victoria Brandon, Chair of the Sierra Club’s Redwoods chapter, tells SF Weekly.
Any reduction — or in some cases, elimination — of these nearby monuments would affect the Bay Area.
Read more at: Trump Rethinks America’s Best Idea – By tom-molanphy – August 10, 2017 – SF Weekly
Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Citizens, environmental groups and lawmakers from coast to coast are calling for a barrage of public comments opposing President Donald Trump’s order to reconsider additions to the four marine sanctuaries that protect the California coast from oil drilling.
More than 43,000 comments had been officially recorded at a government website Monday in a nationwide effort to protect 11 national sanctuaries and monuments, including four that surround the Channel Islands and protect the coast from San Luis Obispo County to Point Arena in Mendocino County.
Other sanctuaries and monuments stretch from the Atlantic Coast to the Great Lakes, Hawaii and Samoa.
The comment deadline — barring a last-minute extension — is 8:59 p.m. Pacific Time Wednesday.
“This is an all-out fight for the future of the California coast,” said Richard Charter of Bodega Bay, an offshore oil drilling opponent since the 1970s.
His organization, The Ocean Foundation, has formed a “spontaneous coalition” with 40 other environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Russian Riverkeeper and Sonoma Coast Surfrider.
Read more at: Environmentalists, officials push back on Trump offshore oil move | The Press Democrat
Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Top political leaders are joining North Coast counties and environmentalists in supporting marine sanctuaries in the face of President Donald Trump’s order to reconsider additions to all four of the sanctuaries that protect the California coast from oil drilling.
Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, and the Sonoma, Marin and Mendocino county boards of supervisors have officially called for preserving sanctuaries that surround the Channel Islands and protect the coast from San Luis Obispo County to Point Arena in Mendocino County.
“Californians cherish their Pacific coastline and ocean resources,” Feinstein and Harris said in a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross last week, extolling the value of the sanctuaries. “These areas are simply irreplaceable.”
The four sanctuaries cover more than 12,300 square miles — about the size of the coastal counties from Marin to Del Norte plus Napa and Lake counties — and protect places such as the Monterey Canyon, Farallon Islands and Cordell Bank, a biologically rich seamount off the Marin coast.
The pro-sanctuary campaign gained focus Friday with an announcement that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will open on Monday a 30-day public comment period on a review of recent additions to the sanctuaries ordered by Trump on April 28.
Read more at: Campaign seeks to defend California marine sanctuaries in face of Trump energy order | The Press Democrat
Amie Windsor, SONOMA WEST TIMES & NEWS
In a move pitting itself against the federal government, the California State Senate passed a resolution on Friday, May 5 opposing President Donald Trump’s “America First Offshore Energy Strategy” executive order.
The President’s executive order directs U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to explore offshore drilling options throughout the coastal United States. Zinke already began implementing Trump’s executive order on Monday, May 1 by initiating development on a five-year plan for oil and gas exploration in offshore waters, including California’s Sonoma County coast.
The orders received harsh criticism and backlash in California government, big and small, including from Senator Mike McGuire and Sonoma County Fifth District Supervisor Lynda Hopkins. Senator McGuire represents almost 40 percent of the state’s coastline from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border, including all 55 miles of Sonoma County coastline.
“The ocean is part of our life and livelihood on the North Coast,” said Senator Mike McGuire. “I grew up going to the coast with my mom. It’s truly a world wonder.”
On Facebook, Hopkins expressed her concern. “I’m honored to represent 55 miles of beautiful coastline … with no offshore oil rigs … and I’m ready to fight to keep it that way,” Hopkins wrote on Thursday, April 27.
In response to the President’s executive order, McGuire coauthored Senate Resolution 35 (SR-35), which states that California, “strongly and unequivocally supports the current federal prohibition on new oil or gas drilling in federal waters offshore California, opposes attempts to modify the prohibition and will consider any appropriate actions to maintain the prohibition.”
According to the resolution, there has been no new offshore oil and gas drilling in California since the Jan. 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill that spewed roughly 3 million gallons of crude oil into the ocean and created a 35-mile long oil slick along the coastline.
Read more at: Offshore drilling off the Sonoma Coast? | News | sonomawest.com
Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
President Donald Trump has doubled down on his call for greater U.S. fossil fuel production, setting the stage Friday for expanded offshore oil drilling and potentially rolling back the North Coast’s sole defense against the prospect of oil rigs dotting the scenic shoreline.
The 30th executive order signed by the president in his first 99 days in office called for leasing of oil drilling tracts “to the maximum extent permitted by law,” accompanied by Trump’s verbal pledge that it would create thousands of high-paying jobs and make the nation more secure.
“This is a great day for American workers and families,” Trump said at a White House ceremony.
Veterans of the decadeslong push to ban oil drilling on California coast, however, said the order amounted to the clearest threat of new drilling since Congress banned new offshore extraction in 1982.
The state’s top Democrats, including Gov. Jerry Brown, blasted Trump’s action. Sen. Dianne Feinstein called the order “reckless and unnecessary.”
“It’s frightening that something we thought was secure and safe could be undone,” said Lynn Woolsey, the former North Coast congresswoman from Petaluma who worked for expansion of two national marine sanctuaries for most of her 20-year career on the Hill. She saw it finally accomplished three years after she retired in 2012.
Read more at: Trump’s offshore oil plan promises jobs, provokes California protest | The Press Democrat
Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
With three weeks left until President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, Democratic lawmakers and environmentalists remain hopeful that President Barack Obama will grant their long-standing wish: permanent protection of the California coast from new offshore oil and gas drilling.
North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, who met personally with administration officials at the White House in November, said he will continue lobbying for presidential action through Obama’s final hours in office on Jan. 20.
“We’ve got to keep pushing until the end,” Huffman said.
A host of Democratic heavyweights — including California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, Gov. Jerry Brown, 26 state senators including Mike McGuire of Healdsburg, and the California Coastal Commission’s chairwoman — sent official letters to Obama urging him to use an obscure federal law to withdraw California waters from future energy leasing.
But to their collective dismay, the Pacific Coast was not included in Obama’s decision two weeks ago to protect hundreds of millions of acres in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans in an executive action observers described as an effort to reinforce his legacy as an environmental leader.
Read more at: Democrats push Obama to protect California coast from new drilling | The Press Democrat
Paul Rogers, THE SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS
Imploring President Barack Obama to leave a landmark environmental legacy, Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday asked the president to permanently ban all new offshore oil and gas drilling in federal waters off California’s coast before he leaves office next month.
“California is blessed with hundreds of miles of spectacular coastline; home to scenic state parks, beautiful beaches, abundant wildlife and thriving communities,” Brown wrote in a letter to Obama. “Clearly, large new oil and gas reserves would be inconsistent with our overriding imperative to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and combat the devastating impacts of climate change.”
Tuesday marked the first time that Brown has asked Obama for such a sweeping ban. In recent weeks, environmental groups and Democratic members of Congress, including California’s two U.S. senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, also have urged the president to protect the state’s coast by taking advantage of a 63-year-old federal law that has never been used so broadly.
The movement has gained increasing urgency among opponents of offshore drilling given President-elect Donald Trump’s recent decisions to nominate oil industry officials and Republicans sympathetic with the oil industry to key positions after he takes office Jan. 20.
On Tuesday, Trump chose Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his nominee for secretary of state, amid reports he has settled on former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, an enthusiastic supporter of more drilling, to be his energy secretary. Previously, Trump nominated Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma, to run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt also has supported more oil and gas production and is skeptical of the scientific consensus that the climate is warming in part because of the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas.
“We’ve never seen a cabinet so full of oil industry shills,” said veteran coastal activist Richard Charter of Bodega Bay, a senior fellow with the Ocean Foundation. “These people are going to drill anything that’s not nailed down. There are no checks and balances left. Taking the California coast off the table right now would be a very smart move.”
Read more at: Offshore Oil: Brown asks Obama for a permanent ban on new drilling off California