May 24, 2017
By Richard Charter
Our beloved coastline here in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties suddenly finds itself in the crosshairs of the Trump Administration’s offshore drilling scheme, which is now even targeting our fragile National Marine Sanctuary. Recently, on April 28, President Trump signed the “America First Offshore Energy Executive Order” which radically reframes offshore petroleum plans for all U.S. federal waters, including those off of the Pacific Coast.
Trump’s Executive Order clearly targets Northern California by starting a 120-day “review” by the Secretary of Commerce of the 2015 designation of the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. This long-sought addition to our Sanctuaries expanded our coast’s northernmost zone of permanent protection from Bodega Head by extending it to Pt. Arena. This Sonoma-Mendocino Coast boundary expansion resulted from an inclusive administrative process conducted by the Sanctuary System, working closely with our region’s entire community.
Trump’s Executive Order ignores the twenty-year record of bipartisan support for this Sanctuary as evidenced by every California Governor, U.S. Senator, Congressional Representative, and state legislator serving throughout that time. The commercial fishing industry, the tourism industry, and all affected local governments, including the Boards of Supervisors of Sonoma, Mendocino, and Marin Counties and others, were all consistently supportive of this boundary expansion.
As the current Administration now erases and rewrites President Obama’s offshore drilling plan, new oil leasing targets along the California Coast will likely include much of the northern San Diego coastline, the Orange County coast, the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and waters within Santa Monica Bay near Malibu. Californians could also expect many more rigs in the Santa Barbara Channel, along with drilling off of San Luis Obispo County and, for the first time, all along the Mendocino and Humboldt County coastlines, particularly near Little River, Mendocino Village, Ft. Bragg, and the Lost Coast.
This White House seems fixated on undoing the legacies of past Presidents who held elective office long before Trump himself was ever even a player in the political arena. But we do not have to allow our coastal economy to be sacrificed to an Administration governed by the oil lobby. We can, and will, fight back against this corporate over-reach and blatant disregard for America’s natural treasures by joining with our own region’s elected officials in standing up to these corporate petroleum industry special interests in public hearings, at the ballot box, and in the Courts.
That the Sonoma-Mendocino Coast is not for sale was already settled long ago.
Richard Charter is a Senior Fellow with The Ocean Foundation and has lived in Bodega Bay for forty years.
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