By Breeana Greenberg, Special to the Independent
Actor and Activist Jane Fonda spoke in support of a ban on offshore oil drilling during a press conference at Main Beach on Monday.
The event at Main Beach was organized to support a commitment from state Sen. Dave Min (D-Irvine) to create legislation that will shut down off-shore oil drilling and production. Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced the West Coast Ocean Preservation Act on Jan. 27 to permanently ban new drilling off the West Coast. Min intends to introduce legislation to ban new and existing oil wells in state water.
“We need to make sure that our beautiful coastlines are never terrorized by another oil spill,” Min said. “And there’s only one way to do that by ending all oil drilling off the coast of California, especially off-shore drilling extraction under current leases, and as I have announced that I will be introducing a bill to do just this in state waters, when our legislature resumes session in January.”
California’s coast has not had a new lease granted for oil drilling in state waters since 1969 and federal waters since 1982. The West Coast Ocean Preservation Act would put a moratorium on future drilling; however, to prevent future spills, existing wells need to be decommissioned, Min said.
“There’s no question that we need to stop all new drilling both in the areas controlled by California’s government but also in the further out federally regulated waters,” Fonda said. “But right now, there are 1,200 active wells in California’s coastal waters, and in federal waters, there are 23 oil and gas production facilities. Some of these, like platform Elly, where the recent spill occurred, were built between the 1960s and the 1990s and have reached or exceeded their expected lifespan. They’re not safe, and they must be shut down and decommissioned.”
The Laguna Beach City Council plans to discuss a resolution to demand an end to all off-shore drilling on Tuesday night.
“This natural beauty is threatened by the possibility of another oil spill off our coasts,” Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen said. “Just over two weeks ago, Orange County was hit by the latest spill. The easy path would be to complete the clean-up and move on. We could rationalize this path by saying that the latest spill wasn’t as bad as we feared, or our spills don’t happen that often or eventually, these leases will come to an end. But the easy path is not the right path … We must choose the difficult path of finding a just and equitable way to end all drilling and production, new and existing off the California coast.”
Min emphasized that the offshore oil ban isn’t going to be easy.
“Ending existing leases is going to be complicated legally. We may have to compensate leaseholders for the value of their contracts. But I want to say something, there’s a pathway here. My team and I have researched this. We think that there is a pathway that starts with the fact that these oil companies are responsible for the cost of capping and decommissioning these wells that they’re responsible for.”
Senate Bill 433 was passed on Oct. 7, which amends the California Coastal Act of 1976 to include enforcement and penalties to those who violate the Coastal Act.
“That means for the very first time, our state will have penalty power to go after the off-shore oil drillers in federal waters to penalize them for these terrible, terrible spills,” said Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica).
“Here in Laguna Beach, we have taken for granted our pristine coast, but sadly our bubble has burst by this horrific and inevitable oil spill,” said Judie Mancuso, founder and president of the Social Compassion in Legislation. “There is so much at stake already for our threatened marine and wildlife.”
Eighty-one dead animals have been recovered as of Tuesday and 33 have been cleaned and are still healthy.
Beach closures following the spill and clean-up effort affected the coastal economy, which depends on tourists visiting local beaches.
“Our economy here in Orange County, during those first critical 12 days was along the coast, completely shut down,” Sup. Katrina Foley said. “The harbors shut down. Tourism shut down after nearly two years of a pandemic, where people were finally getting back to work. Businesses were finally open, and tourism was coming back to Orange County.”
Fonda also advocated for making sure that workers that depend on oil are not left behind. Decommissioning existing wells will create thousands of jobs that require no training, Fonda said.
“We absolutely must make sure that workers, families, and communities that depend on fossil fuels are not left behind,” Fonda said. “These workers are not to blame. They do hard, dangerous work. And by the way, they work in an industry that helped build this country … there must be absolutely no time lag between when their fossil fuel job ends and their new job begins.”
Protestors carrying a Republic of South Vietnam flag and sign that said “traitor” tried to speak over Fonda with a bull horn.
“I very much support and applaud Senator Min’s legislation to shut down oil production and our state’s waters immediately,” Fonda said. “But we must also demand that President Biden do the same in federally controlled water. No new permits, and decommission old wells before there are more ruptures.”View Our User Comment Policy