At Spanish Landing in Point Loma, Councilmembers Alvarez, Bry and Zapf Call on Feds to Remove San Diego From Offshore Drilling Sites

by on January 30, 2018 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Bianca Bruno / Courthouse News / January 29, 2018

Standing in front of the picturesque San Diego harbor Monday at Spanish Landing in Point Loma, city council members called on the federal government to remove the eighth largest U.S. city from its list of potential offshore drilling sites, saying it will negatively impact military operations and tourism.

Councilwomen Lorie Zapf and Barbara Bry were joined by Councilman David Alvarez in calling for San Diego’s coastal waters to be protected from offshore oil drilling after the region made the Jan. 4 list of potential sites scoped out by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The California coastline has not had any new offshore drilling operations for three decades. The Trump Administration’s proposal would offer six new leases off California’s coast to oil and gas companies.

Zapf and Bry renewed their call made last year to former President Barack Obama to permanently withdraw federal waters off the coast of San Diego from offshore oil and gas leasing and prohibit future operations. Obama did not grant permanent protections for San Diego waters before leaving office, prompting the council members to call on President Donald Trump to do so.

The call from San Diego’s leaders follows that of other leaders across the state as well as pushback from Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who was able to get his state excluded from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s list of potential offshore drilling expansion sites.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra criticized the move to remove Florida from the list based on potential tourism impacts offshore drilling could have on the Sunshine State, noting based on that criteria, California should also be removed from the list.

A bipartisan host of other governors have also called for exemptions for their states from offshore drilling expansion.

California is the third largest oil producing state in the country, Zapf said Monday, with most oil extractions coming from inland Kern County.

“California does its share for oil production,” Zapf said.

Zapf called the Interior Department’s proposal to expand offshore drilling “ridiculous” and “overreaching” and said it will impact military personnel’s ability to do their jobs.

“Nothing should intervene with our military’s ability to train,” Zapf said.

Councilwoman Bry said expanding offshore drilling in San Diego would be “a bad business decision,” pointing out the nearly 46,000 maritime jobs and $14 billion in direct spending on the region produced by the industry.

She also noted San Diego’s aggressive Climate Action Plan, which legally requires the city use 100 percent renewable energy by 2035, a goal which would be put off by “backward thinking” when “new technology is already surpassing the mediocrity of fossil fuels,” Bry said.

Councilman Alvarez, whose city council district includes San Diego’s Navy base, said: “It’s not often that environmentalists and the military see eye to eye on issues and are in agreement that expanding drilling impacts their safety and our environment.”

The federal government is currently taking public comment on its offshore drilling proposal through March 9.

Editordude’s Note: There is a rally planned against oilshore drilling on Saturday, February 3rd. 11am-1pm, at Mission Beach at Belmont Park.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

ToolPusher January 31, 2018 at 2:32 am

Political posturing on both ends. The reality is San Diego does not have economically recoverable oil offshore (if there is any oil at all). Most of the offshore oil near California is off of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties and points north with some off of Los Angeles and Orange Counties. If leasing blocks off San Diego were auctioned (probably won’t even get to that stage) not sure there would be any buyers and if there where it’s doubtful any would actually start exploiting oil. The current day rate for a drill ship is about $150K with about 90 days or more just for drilling which doesn’t produce any oil (and this is about as cheap as things will get because of the recent slow down in offshore production because of low prices the past few years). Without any undersea pipelines or on shore-infrastructure to support oil production, there would have to be a floating production facility at another $150K per day plus frequent oil tankers at about $40K per day. Never mind the exploration costs, huge equipment costs (a blowout preventer alone can cost at least $45 million per well head) and ancillary support costs (which San Diego currently does not have the infrastructure for). There would have to be an awful lot of recoverable oil out there to justify the incredible costs (and never mind the equally incredible social costs associated with drilling off of San Diego with protests, cold shoulders from local and state politicians, and disruptions to using the waters for other commercial/recreational activities not to mention the military- oil companies do take these factors into consideration). The bottom line is that San Diego should fear not for oil development (unless there is a major new discovery hiding somewhere out there); now further north up the Coast may be a different story despite, the social costs, and of course if there is a spill San Diego could be affected, so that should be where the political focus should be if anything.

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Geoff Page January 31, 2018 at 12:00 pm

Very well articulated, Toolpusher. I would emphasize the military aspect too. With the current administration being so pro military and with the power the military already has, any exploration that might affect the military would be doomed. But, on the other hand, how would some drilling platforms and ships really affect military training? I agree with the first sentence, this is posturing intended to make folks look good for not really doing anything.

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