LOS ANGELES (AP) — A group of Democratic senators on Wednesday proposed permanently banning offshore drilling on the outer continental shelf off California, Oregon and Washington.
A bill to be formally introduced shortly would block federal leases for the exploration, development or production of oil or natural gas in any area of the outer continental shelf off the coast of the three states.
A similar bill was submitted in 2010, but it did not clear Congress.
"We cannot afford to put California's coastal economy at risk by drilling offshore," Sen. Barbara Boxer of California said in a statement. "More than half a million California jobs and more than $34 billion in annual economic activity depend on a pristine coastline and we owe it to current and future generations to protect our coast."
Boxer's office said the legislation would not affect existing leases in federal waters or activity allowed in state waters.
A clean ocean "sustains jobs in our state's fishing, shipping and tourism industries, and we can't afford to put the state's economy at risk just to pad the profits of big oil," Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon said in a statement. "This moratorium will ensure that Oregon's coastline is protected for generations to come."
Other senators backing the so-called West Coast Ocean Protection Act include Dianne Feinstein of California, Washington's Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and Ron Wyden of Oregon.