West Coast senators propose offshore drilling ban


by KING5.com


Posted on May 13, 2010 at 1:25 PM

Updated Thursday, May 13 at 5:52 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senators from California, Oregon and Washington have launched legislation to ban oil drilling off the West Coast.

The measure would amend an existing act, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, to permanently ban drilling off of the three states.

Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer of California, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray of Washington and Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Oregon are sponsoring the bill.

In light of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico last month  attention has been focused on the risk of drilling.

"I think right now it would be wrongheaded to pursue an aggressive expansion of offshore drilling beyond what we already have," said Sen. Maria Cantwell.

Earlier this month Democratic U.S. Representatives from the three West Coast states introduced their own legislation to permanently ban drilling.

And, on Wednesday, a bill aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions was introduced in the Senate. The bill would give states the right to veto drilling within 75 miles of their coasts. 

Offshore drilling had been banned until 2008.

President Barack Obama recently committed to maintaining a moratorium on offshore drilling and exploration along those West Coast states. He took that step even as he proposed expanding oil and gas production in other waters off the East Coast and the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Poll: Most opposed to drilling off NW coast

A new KING 5 News poll conducted Thursday found that 52 percent of people in Western Washington oppose oil drilling off the Northwest Coast while 39 percent support it.

The poll conducted by SurveyUSA found 50 percent of people believe that it is possible to conduct offshore drilling in a way that did not threaten the environment. Forty-four percent think it's impossible.

Of those polled, only 13 percent of those who supported oil drilling off the Northwest Coast before the Gulf spill say they now oppose drilling here. Two percent who opposed it before the Gulf spill now support it. Forty-five percent of those who opposed it before the spill still oppose it and 37 percent of those who supported it before the spill are still in favor.

As for whether oil rigs or oil tankers would be more of a threat to the Northwest environment, 35 percent say rigs and 38 percent say tankers.

SurveyUSA polled 500 adults in KING-TV's viewing area for this survey. The questions had a margin of error of ± 4.5 percent.