Orange County beaches have reopened, but local authorities and environmentalists are working to ensure that the recent oil spill and its impacts are not soon forgotten.
A crowd of hundreds turned out to support the speakers at a press conference calling for an end to offshore oil drilling on Monday at Main Beach Park in Laguna Beach.
“Here at Laguna Beach, we have taken our pristine coastline for granted, but unfortunately our bubble has burst due to this horrific and inevitable oil spill,” said Judie Mancuso, Founder and President of Social Compassion in Legislation. “There is already so much at stake for our endangered marine life. “
State Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine) has announced that he will introduce a bill in the next legislative session that will end offshore drilling in state waters, including for those who operate under existing leases. He called offshore oil platforms “threats” that put beaches and marine ecosystems at risk.
“Even if you’re not an environmentalist, it’s easy to end offshore drilling,” Min said. “Oil drilling off the coast of California represents less than 0.3% of all US oil production. It’s not even a drop in the bucket.
“Meanwhile, our coastal economy – based on these beautiful beaches behind me along the coast – is worth $ 44 billion a year, employing over half a million Californians.”
The event was headlined by actress and environmental activist Jane Fonda, who was cheered by attendees as she spoke about the need to protect the ocean. She said a commitment to end offshore oil drilling must be made not only at the local level, but also at the state and federal levels.
Fonda added that new jobs must be made available to those who have worked in the fossil fuel industries.
“They work in an industry that has helped build this country,” Fonda said. “We should not blame them. Oil, gas and coal that exist that are not used are called stranded assets. Workers should never be stranded assets.
Fonda’s speech was interrupted by a small group of protesters. One of them tried to speak over Fonda with a megaphone. The demonstrators carried with them the American flag and the flag of South Vietnam, as well as a sign with the word “Traitor”, referring to Fonda’s political activism against the Vietnam War in the early 1970s.
Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley spoke about the economic impact of the oil spill.
“Our economy here in Orange County during those critical first 12 days was, along the coast, completely closed,” Foley said. “The ports have closed. Tourism was shut down after nearly two years of a pandemic where people were finally back to work, businesses were finally open and tourism was returning to Orange County. “
Laguna Beach fully reopened its beaches, including water, on Thursday after gradually restoring public access. Huntington Beach and Newport Beach also reopened their beaches last week.
Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen quoted former US President John F. Kennedy’s speech on the US space effort and the decision to send a man to the moon to make it clear he would be difficult to pursue the ban on offshore oil drilling, but he believes the time has come to rise to the challenge.
“It won’t be a simple task or a short road, but it is a challenge that we have to accept, that we must not postpone and that we have to win,” said Whalen.
Laguna Beach City Council – whose five members attended Monday’s press conference – are expected to pass a resolution on Tuesday spelling out the city’s opposition to oil and gas drilling in federal and state waters off the California coast. .
City Councilor George Weiss had a sign attached to his hat at the event that read, “Oil and seawater don’t mix.”
MP Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) has repeatedly said the oil spill is the community’s worst fear.
“We are so lucky to be here as stewards of this ocean and as stewards of this planet,” said Petrie-Norris. “We need to make sure another disaster like this does not happen under our watch.”
Amplify Energy released a statement on Monday on environmental remediation efforts related to the spill off the coast of Orange County.
“Over the past two weeks, the Amplify Energy team has worked closely with the U.S. Coast Guard and the California Office of Spill Prevention and Response under Unified Command, as well as with many other federal agencies, state and local agencies on remediation efforts in response to this event, ”the release said. “We are grateful for the efforts of all parties involved, and we will continue to work closely together as the cleanup and restoration progresses. “
Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.