Target: California State Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins
Goal: Protect marine reserve from offshore oil drilling
After a massive oil spill along the California coastline in 1969, California began implementing protections from offshore drilling, which threatens marine life and the state’s beautiful golden shores. Protections like the 1972 California Coastal Commission, established to provide greater oversight for development, and the 1994 Coastal Sanctuary Act, which banned offshore drilling in much of the state’s water, have done much to preserve the coast since. Unfortunately, a loophole in the Coastal Sanctuary Act allows new offshore drilling in Tranquillion Ridge, a section of the Vandenberg State Marine Reserve in Santa Barbara County, home to countless diverse wildlife.
Along with the many creatures below the surface, the Marine Protected Area supports sea otters, harbor seals and a wide variety of birds, many of which are considered “species of concern.” Despite the area’s protected status, the loophole allows the State Lands Commission to issue leases to siphon oil and gas in Tranquillion Ridge to those companies are already tapped by federal operations.
Many oppose the drilling, like State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson who championed SB 1096, a bill proposing to close the loophole for good. Tranquillion Ridge is the only one of eleven oil fields off the coast of California being tapped by operations in federal waters. As Deputy Director James Joyce said representing Senator Jackson, “Tranquillion Ridge has been an exception to the law and deeply vulnerable to offshore drilling, despite being designated a marine protected area.”
The bill has been backed by Santa Barbara County supervisors, bringing it that much closer to seeing the light of day. SB 1096 now awaits an assembly vote. Sign this petition urging the California State Assembly to pass SB 1096 and protect the coast’s wildlife and economy from the dangers of oil development.
Dear Speaker Atkins,
Tranquillion Ridge is home to many diverse and threatened species, and is protected as part of the Vandenberg State Marine Reserve. It is currently the only one of eleven oil fields tapped by federal operations off California’s coast. The local economy relies heavily on the health of the coast for commercial fishing, tourism and recreation all along California’s shores. Environmental Defense Center Chief Counsel Linda Krop aptly said, “The purpose of SB 1096, simply put, is to provide the same protections to our county that the rest of the state enjoys.”
I implore you to pass SB 1096 and close the loophole endangering precious wildlife, local economy and the natural beauty of Santa Barbara’s coast.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: U.S. Government public domain via Wikimedia Commons