Inslee to Zinke: no drilling off Washington's coast

January 11, 2018

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Following the removal of Florida from a draft plan to allow offshore drilling, Gov. Jay Inslee sent the following letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke requesting Washington be removed from the plan as well.

Governors of both parties across the nation have requested removal from the plan, but so far only Florida's request has been granted. Inslee previously issued a joint statement with Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon and Gov. Jerry Brown of California strongly opposing new offshore drilling off of the Pacific Coast.

The text of today's letter is below. PDF available here.

January 11, 2018
 
The Honorable Ryan Zinke
U.S. Secretary of the Interior
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240
 
Dear Secretary Zinke:
 
I write to express to you my strong opposition to newly proposed oil and gas leasing off of Washington States coast, and the Pacific Coast. Specifically, I urge you to remove this area from the 2019-2024 Draft Proposed National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program issued by your department last week, which would expand oil and gas drilling off the Pacific Coast for the first time in decades. I would also like to request a meeting with you to discuss this important topic.
 
I was encouraged by your recent action to remove Floridas coastlines from the proposed program, following your discussion with that states governor and your understanding of his states concerns. I believe that every state should be granted a similar opportunity to protect its marine and coastal waters.
 
In comments announcing the decision to remove Floridas coasts from the proposed leasing program, you recognized the contributions that coastal tourism makes to their states economy, and therefore the unique threats that oil and gas drilling activities provide to that economic sector. In Washington State we also host a robust tourism and recreation economic sector, which is similarly dependent upon healthy marine and coastal ecosystems. Furthermore, Washington State is home to the nations largest shellfish industry, and its marine and coastal waters support robust fishing and shipping economic sectors, as well as a significant U.S. Navy presence supporting our national defense. Each of these sectors could be adversely impacted by new offshore oil and gas activities off of our coast.
 
In the past, our states waters have experienced significant adverse environmental impacts from oil spills. This includes the 1988 Nestucca oil barge accident near Grays Harbor, which resulted in 225,000 gallons oiling 110 miles of Washingtons coastline, as well as the Tenyo Marus collision with a freighter vessel in 1991, 20 miles west of Washingtons Cape Flattery, which resulted in an oil spill affecting Washingtons and Canadas Pacific coastal waters.
 
Following these incidents, the federal government and our state government have taken action to eliminate oil and gas leasing activities off of Washingtons coast, to enhance protection of its marine and coastal waters and to reduce the threat of oil spills in other oil and gas-related activities. For instance, in 1994 the federal government established the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary,which includes 3,188 square miles of marine waters off the coast of Washingtons Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park. This sanctuary supports and protects all manner of unique marine life, including twenty-nine species of marine mammals, such as humpback and gray whales, and scores of seabirds. The sanctuarys unique and delicate habitats and ecosystems are threatened by the new proposed leasing plan.
 
Washington State has been exempted from new federal oil and gas lease sales since 1984, and our states coastal waters have become incompatible with oil and gas drilling activities. We have joined with our fellow West Coast states, California and Oregon, in urging your department not to expand oil and gas leasing off of our shared coastline.
 
Furthermore, I oppose this proposed oil and gas leasing plan and other elements of the Trump Administrations energy agenda that would vastly expand fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure and gut pollution control standards, which would increase our nations carbon pollution. America must focus its energies and actions at all levels of government on reducing carbon pollution and take a leadership role in deploying and developing twenty-first century clean energy technologies in order to fight climate change.
 
Enclosed, please find two letters that were submitted to your department last summer as it considered this new oil and gas leasing program: 1) a letter from myself, California Governor Jerry Brown and Oregon Governor Kate Brown strongly opposing new offshore drilling off of the Pacific Coast; and 2) a letter from the Washington State Departments of Ecology, Fish & Wildlife, and Natural Resources, opposing oil and gas leasing off of Washingtons coastline and providing additional information supporting our states opposition to this activity.
 
Very truly yours,
 
Jay Inslee
Governor

Media Contact 

Tara Lee
Governor Inslee’s Communications Office
360.902.4136