NPR logo Offshore Drilling Ban Sought By Senators

Offshore Drilling Ban Sought By Senators

Part of the predicted fallout from BP's undersea oil gusher disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, was falling overall support for offshore drilling.

Indeed, the accident has caused some softening in public backing for such drilling though a recent Pew Research Center for the People and the Press poll found that a majority — 54 percent — still favored it.

That was a national poll, however, and may not reflect the mood in places like California where environmentalism runs strong.

In California, for instance, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has come out in opposition to offshore oil exploration and drilling.

And on Thursday, several West Coast senators announced they were sponsoring legislation to ban such drilling off the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington State.

Sen Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) told reporters:

I'm going to read you the bill, because it's extremely simple, one sentence. And it says, "Notwithstanding any other provision of this section or any other law, the secretary of the Interior shall not issue a lease for the exploration, development or production of oil or natural gas in any area of the outer continental shelf off the coast of the state of California, Oregon or Washington."

The lawmakers said their bill was necessary because even though President Barack Obama has made West Coast offshore drilling off-limits until 2017, that moratorium is president-dependent. So they want to codify it in law.

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) said:

The voters of my state, our state, have long opposed offshore oil
drilling. So we're here to announce this ban that would permanently ban all new offshore oil drilling in federal waters, all along the West Coast.

In 1969, we had a massive oil spill off the Santa Barbara coast.
It was caused by a drilling disaster not much different from the one in the Gulf of Mexico...

... Santa Barbara was a seminal moment for us. The people went to the ballot in the early-'70s, passed an initiative, said we don't want
oil drilling off the coast of California.