Congressman Bera Condemns Trump Offshore Oil Drilling Proposal, Primary Opponent Offers Measured Support

Offshore oil drilling platforms near Los Angeles. |  
January 5, 2017 | 

Yesterday President Donald J. Trump announced that his administration would propose a five-year plan to increase offshore oil drilling. The announcement has been met with concern and welcome news from various group and politicians depending on their perspective.  

For Congressman Ami Bera (D -Elk Grove) who represents California's 7th district, the announcement was met with condemnation. Conversely, one of his three declared opponents in the June primary, Republican Andrew Grant, has voiced measured support.

In a statement released by Congressman Bera noted growing up near and enjoying the coastline in Southern California and characterized the increased drilling as a travesty. Bera expressed concern about the possible environmental devastation from offshore accidents. 

"I am seriously concerned about the potential environmental and public health risks that come with offshore drilling," Bera said. "We must defend our coastline and the environment from disaster, such as the BP oil spill that did such tremendous damage."

Grant, who along with fellow Republican Dr. Yona Barash and Democrat Brad Westmoreland are challenging Bera, offered support of the increased drilling. Saying Californians suffer from over-regulation and high fuel costs, including a recently enacted gas sales tax increase, Grant asserted it would benefit consumers.

"So it’s reasonable for the Administration to propose opening a greater percentage of the U.S. coastline to off-shore drilling, to reduce fuel cost and ensure access to sustained energy resources," Grant said. "The Administration’s 90-percent proposal is certainly ambitious, and I see the announcement as the start to negotiating a more realistic and practical percentage that better balances the need for energy security and support to the US economy while protecting our environment."

Grant also noted that should drilling proceed, strong spill measures remain in place "and that California and local coastline communities continue to have a strong voice in ensuring offshore drilling is done safely and responsibly."

Barash and Westmoreland did not respond to email requests seeking comment. 

Offshore oil drilling has been a sensitive topic in California since the 1969 oil spill from an offshore drilling platform off Santa Barbara. That incident, which to date is the third largest behind the Exxon Valdez in 1989 and 2010's Deepwater Horizon domestic spills, resulted in toughened regulations and helped spur the modern environmental movement. 

The proposal has been widely criticized by environmental groups as a setback for clean energy sources. While much of the opposition has fallen along political lines, some Republicans including Florida Governor Rick Scott, whose state relies on tourism to fuel their economy, have criticized the proposal.   

"Moving towards a clean energy future would ensure we create 21st-century jobs and safeguard a clean environment to pass on to our children and grandchildren," Bera added. "This decision takes us backwards.”

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