Cantwell Sounds Alarm On Offshore Drilling Threat To Coastal Economies

Cantwell Leads Lawmakers In Telling Secretary Zinke To Protect Coastal Jobs From Offshore Drilling

February 6, 2018

Watch Sen. Cantwell’s floor speech here. 


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), led a group of lawmakers on the Senate floor calling for the protection of coastal jobs threatened by the expansion of offshore drilling in the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2019-2024.

“Dramatic increases in oil and gas development offshore pose a dramatic impact to our coastal economies in the United States, particularly in the Pacific Northwest,” said Senator Cantwell. “The draft leasing plan, which is what has been put forth by the Secretary of the Interior, is an unprecedented attempt to allow offshore oil and gas drilling in over 90% of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, including Washington and Oregon.”

Washington state’s maritime economy as a whole is worth $50 billion in economic activity, and supports 191,000 jobs in the fishing, seafood processing, shipbuilding, trade, and other maritime sectors. “The Trump administration failed to account for the value of the existing robust coastal and ocean economies, which would be jeopardized by expanding offshore drilling in those areas. Our ocean-related economy is so important to our state,” said Senator Cantwell.

Tourism on the coast adds thousands of jobs for anglers, charter boats, guides, restaurants, hotels and more. These jobs rely on clean water and healthy oceans, which will be put at risk by oil spills and activities related to exploration. Secretary Zinke’s unilateral move to open the Washington coast to oil & gas development ignores the voices of citizens that live in coastal communities.

“The truth is that instead of creating new jobs in the oil and gas sector, the Administration is poised to choose big oil jobs over other ocean-dependent industries like fishing, shipbuilding, and tourism on our coasts,” said Senator Cantwell. “I'm very concerned that we are wasting taxpayer money reanalyzing what we have analyzed before, that oil and gas development in the Pacific Northwest does not make sense for our coastal communities. We want to fight to protect our fishing jobs, our tourism, our recreation, and all the things that are part of the center of our culture on our coasts.”

On February 1, 2018, Senator Cantwell led a group of Pacific Northwest Lawmakers calling on Secretary Zinke to remove of the Washington/Oregon planning area from the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2019-2024.