Today, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 256 into law, creating a new line of defense against offshore oil and gas drilling that could undermine the coast’s thriving tourism, recreation and fishing industries. The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Senator Roblan, Representative Brock Smith and Representative Gomberg, makes permanent a moratorium on oil and gas leasing in Oregon’s Territorial Sea that had been set to expire in 2020. It also blocks the development of new piers, pipelines and other infrastructure in state waters required to support oil, gas and sulphur drilling further offshore. The legislation comes as a key victory for Surfrider Chapters in Oregon that have been working on this since early last year - WATCH the Signing Ceremony.
"This legislation is the product of Oregonian voices speaking loudly for Oregonian values and taking a leadership role in preventing the erosion of core laws that protect our enviornment," said Governor Brown at today's signing ceremony. The federal government's proposal to open most American waters to offshore drilling would have opened our shores, our wildlife, our communities and our economy to the threat of devastation from an oil spill."
"Our ocean is supported by fishermen and a broad coalition of ocean users hoping to make Oregon a pioneer in a sustainable healthy ocean economy. Drilling for oil and gas off our costs will certainly jeopardize coastal economies and put vulnerable communities at risk -- by threatening our public beaches, commercial fisheries, tourism and recreational economies", said Senator Arnie Roblan, coastal legislator and cheif sponsor of the bill.
Surfrider Foundation first launched the Oregon campaign in January of last year, as a strategy within our priority Drilling is Killing Campaign to strengthen coastal state's nearshore protections from oil and gas drilling. The federal administration released a proposal last January to open 90% of U.S. waters--including the coasts of Oregon, Washington and California--to new oil and gas leasing. Oregonians submitted more than 30,000 comments on the federal plan, and Surfrider chapers led the way in supporting communities to pass resolutions opposing it - including the cities of Newport, Toledo, Port Orford, Gold Beach, Lincoln City, Yachats and Portland, the Siletz Tribal Council, and the ports of Newport and Toledo.
There has also been a strong response from the business community, with more than 2,400 companies coming together to form the Business Alliance for Protecting the Pacific Coast. Northwest EcoTours, Pacific Ocean Harvesters, Local Ocean Seafood, Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters and Cleanline Surfshop are among its members. Both Oregon's coastal legislators and our Congressional leaders were quick to support the grassroots effort, demonstrating their outspoken support and intent for legislative efforts at a press conference Surfrider organized at last year's Coastal Economic Summit.
According to the National Ocean Economics Program, Oregon’s ocean economy is worth $2.5 billion annually, and supports 33,000 jobs. More than 25,000 of those jobs are in tourism, recreation and fishing, the sectors that stand to lose the most from an oil spill.
Oregon is one of several states that has taken action to protect its coastal economy from the threat of oil drilling. California passed similar legislation last year, and Washington is currently working on oil spill prevention legislation. Several Atlantic states and Hawai’i are also working on drilling bans. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is expected to release its revised federal drilling proposal this month or early in April.