Friday, May 1, 2009
Thank you for writing to me to express your opposition to opening the Outer Continental Shelf to oil and gas exploration. I appreciate hearing your thoughts about this important energy issue, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.
As you may know, Congress acted to protect the federal waters off of the California coast - including waters as close as three miles offshore - from oil and gas exploration in 1981. I am deeply disappointed that the 27-year-old moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling were allowed to expire on October 1, 2008.
After the moratorium expired, the Department of the Interior - under the direction of then-Secretary Dirk Kempthorne - drafted a five-year leasing plan for the newly opened areas. The public comment period for the leasing plan was originally set to end in March 2009, but Secretary Ken Salazar extended the public comment period until September and directed the Department of the Interior to review the leasing plan drafted by the Bush Administration.
I do not believe the United States can drill our way to energy independence, and I am pleased to learn that Secretary Salazar will review the flawed offshore drilling policy of the Bush Administration. According to the Department of Energy, lifting the moratoria will likely not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. I also continue to believe that lifting the moratoria on offshore drilling is a false promise and an unnecessary risk. The risk of an oil spill is too great for California's coast, which is a unique natural resource linked to thousands of jobs in multiple industries.
Please know that I share your concerns, and I will keep your thoughts in mind as I continue working to advance measures that decrease our dependence on oil, invest in clean renewable energy and increase our energy security.
Again, thank you for writing. If you have additional comments or questions, please feel free to contact my Washington, D.C. staff at (202) 224-3841. Best regards.
United States Senator