The Coast News Group
An oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Courtesy photo
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Oceanside stands against offshore drilling

OCEANSIDE — City Council unanimously approved a resolution to oppose offshore oil drilling Feb. 28. Council members talked about their love of a clean ocean and the economic impacts potential oil spills could bring.

Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery spoke about the value of clean beaches to people and wildlife.

Councilwoman Esther Sanchez said a clean ocean is vital to the local economy.

“It has a huge impact on the coastline and environment, and our tourist-serving economy,” Sanchez said.

Oceanside is dependent on the ocean for recreation uses, tourism, commercial boating and fishing, which add to the city’s economy.

The risk of oil spills from offshore drilling jeopardize the local environment.

“Spills damage oceans, beaches — they are highly fatal and clearly toxic,” Lowery said.

Lowery said the city already faces challenges of guarding the ocean from sewage, industrial uses and climate impacts.

There are also oil platform safety concerns. In its declaration of opposition, the city cited the 1969 oil spill off the cost of Santa Barbara and 2015 offshore pipeline burst at Refugio State Park.

Drilling accidents that pollute the coast, harm wildlife and people, and negatively affect recreation and commercial activities are essentially a matter of when.

There is also concern offshore drilling will further the state’s dependence on fossil fuels and undermine efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The call to action to oppose offshore drilling came because the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is considering expanding the Outer Continental Shelf Leasing Program for 2019 to 2024, and is soliciting public comments.

A group of concerned residents from Oceana ocean advocacy group arrived with awareness stickers, posters and opposition signup sheets after the council vote. Group members did not speak to City Council, but said they are pleased to hear the council opposed offshore drilling. The group works worldwide to secure policies that protect marine life and habitats.

Also on record in opposing offshore drilling are the state governor, attorney general, state senate, State Lands Commission, Coastal Commission and Fish and Game Commission.

Earlier in the meeting, City Council approve a resolution to authorize application for a beach restoration grant. The state grant of $850,000 will help fund a Shoreline Feasibility Study by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The state Department of Parks and Recreation, Division of Boating and Waterway is awarding grants to help preserve the state shoreline, minimize economic losses caused by erosion and maintain recreational beaches.

Oceanside is a good match for funds. The city has a 76-year history of beach erosion resulting from Camp Pendleton Harbor being constructed in 1942. The federal government works with the city to mitigate sand loss through sand replenishment efforts.

A Shoreline Study is needed to find a permanent solution. The federal government promised a study to the city but later said it did not have enough funds to follow through with a full study. Grant funds would fulfill 85 percent of the shortfall.

No date was shared on when grant application results are expected.