Congressmen Alan Lowenthal, Mike Levin Lead Letter to House Leadership Urging Retention of Offshore Drilling Provisions in Build Back Better Act

October 8, 2021
Press Release

In response to the oil spill off the Southern California coast, Congressmen Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) and Mike Levin (CA-49) today led a letter signed by 77 House colleagues urging House leadership to ensure the Build Back Better Act retains provisions to ban any new offshore oil and gas leasing in federal waters off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, and in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. Earlier this year, Congressman Levin introduced, and Congressman Lowenthal co-sponsored, the American Coasts and Oceans Protection Act to prohibit any new leasing for drilling activity along the Southern California coast, from San Diego to the northern border of San Luis Obispo County.

In the letter sent Friday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the Members wrote, “Dead birds and dead fish are already washing ashore, local beaches have been closed, boaters are being asked to stay away, and all fishing is curtailed for the area. Oil pollution threatens the more than $2 billion in wages and $4.15 billion in gross domestic product generated by the marine economy in Orange County. We urge you to retain the offshore oil and gas related provisions in the Build Back Better Act, including the provision that invests in the long-term protection of coastal communities by ending new federal oil and gas leasing off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, and in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico […] Congress has a crucial opportunity to end new offshore oil and gas leasing in the Build Back Better Act. We are confident your leadership will help us pass a budget that invests in protecting our coastal communities.”

The following organizations echoed their support for the offshore drilling provisions in the Build Back Better Act:

Alex Taurel, Conservation Program Director, League of Conservation Voters: “Offshore drilling harms coastal economies and communities, wildlife, and our climate. With the Build Back Better Act, Congress has the opportunity to make investments to prevent future oil spill disasters, act on climate at the scale that science and justice require, create good-paying jobs, and reduce costs for families. We strongly support the calls by Reps. Levin, Lowenthal, and many other members of Congress to invest in coastal communities by retaining provisions in the final Build Back Better Act to ban new offshore oil and gas leasing in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico.”

Diane Hoskins, Oceana Campaign Director: “Oceana commends Congressman Levin and congressional leaders for sounding the alarm in the wake of the oil spill devastating Southern California and calling to permanently protect our coasts from dirty and dangerous offshore drilling. Unfortunately, this is just the latest of many tragedies caused by the oil and gas industry. Between 2007 and 2018, the industry averaged about two oil spills every day. This spill is a painful yet unsurprising reminder that even with so-called best leak detection equipment, a disaster of this magnitude can devastate the local economy and environment. The oil and gas industry proves once again that they are selling a sense of safety they cannot back up. It’s time for Congress to finally protect our coasts and end new leasing for offshore drilling.”

Valerie Cleland, oceans advocate for NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council): “The devastating California oil spill has made what we already know even clearer – offshore drilling threatens coastal communities and our climate. The support for the offshore drilling provisions in Build Back Better is evident and Congress must include these provisions in the final reconciliation package.”

Click here to read the full letter.