‘It’s time to put an end to it’: Public officials push to ban offshore drilling

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ENCINITAS, Calif. — Public officials gathered Tuesday in Encinitas to hold a press conference touting legislation to ban all new offshore drilling activity in Southern California.

Congressman Mike Levin, who represents California’s 49th Congressional District, said the stakes are too high and the natural resources of Southern California are too critically important to not just the natural aspects of it, but to the economy as well.

“I don’t hear any Republicans that say they want more offshore drilling, I don’t hear any independents that say they want more offshore drilling, I don’t hear any Democrats that say they want more offshore drilling,” Levin said. “The only people that seem to want more offshore drilling are the fossil fuel industry, and it’s time to put an end to it once and for all.”

Under the American Coasts and Oceans Protection Act, the congressman said it would prohibit any new leasing for the exploration, development or production of oil or natural gas along Southern California.

Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear also commented on the situation.

“We know that having an oil spill to our north inevitably will result in oil washing up on the beaches here,” Blakespear said. “We cannot overlook that, although at this point it’s only gone as far as Dana Point. In the future, we will see that.”

Officials say roughly 124,000 gallons of oil has streamed out of a broken pipeline, soiling Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach and all the way down to Dana Point.  

Coast Guard Capt. Rebecca Ore said Tuesday divers determined about 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) of the pipeline was “laterally displaced” by about 105 feet (32 meters). She did not say what might have caused it to move. In addition, the pipeline had a 13-inch (33-centimeters) gash in it, Ore said.

Levin emphasized the need to stop the oil from going further south and east towards the beaches.

“All the beaches in Orange County are shut down and then, of course, we have the base and then we wind up down in Oceanside, so I know day in and day out, we are getting updated in real-time,” he said.

Levin says the latest information he’s been gathering from the Coast Guard is that the oil slick is moving toward the San Diego coastline at roughly a half a knot per hour.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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