SEATTLE, Wash. - Both Washington senators have joined colleagues from
Oregon and California to introduce a bill to permanently ban oil
drilling off the West coast. Conservation and fishing industry groups
say there's already plenty to worry about, with offshore drilling in
Alaska and tanker traffic along the coast. They are voicing support for
the Gulf Coast oil cleanup efforts, and cautioning Northwesterners that
it could happen here.
Salmon fisherman Pete Knutson in Seattle says the local industry already
takes some precautions.
"Many of our guys are involved in some training programs, and there's
some employment for the fishermen on a training basis to deploy booms,
things like that. But, that would be our 'worst nightmare' scenario,
especially given the problems we're already facing in terms of salmon
habitat, here locally. This would really be a killer."
They're hoping the BP oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico will also
prompt Congress to act more quickly on climate legislation that requires
serious support for cleaner energy sources. Knutson, who runs the Loki
Fish Company in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood, believes the health of
the environment is at stake, but also the futures of many small
"It's not a single, large corporation, so people don't understand the
tremendous multiplier effect that comes out, from a single boat. You're
hiring welders, and electronics guys and crewmen, and everything else."
Gov. Chris Gregoire says Washington coastal waters support 162,000 jobs
and industries worth more than $9 billion; she also favors a drilling
ban. However, all six of the bill's sponsors are Democrats, and there is
wide Republican support for increasing drilling to reduce U.S.
dependence on foreign oil.
A companion bill in the U.S. House is co-sponsored by Representatives
Brian Baird and Norm Dicks. The House version of the West Coast Ocean
Protection Act is HR 5213.