President Donald Trump, flanked by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Members of Congress from coastal states, signed the America First Offshore Energy Executive Order Friday at the White House.
“This executive order starts the process of opening offshore areas to job-creating energy exploration,” President Trump said.
With the stroke of a pen, President Trump opened the door to new drilling in federal waters off the Santa Barbara County coast, something Californians haven’t seen in more than three decades, since President Ronald Reagan.
“I’m excited about it,” said Steve Thomas, a representative with the local Tea Party. “It’s time.”
Thomas said he is just as concerned about the environment as others are, but supports any move that lessens America’s dependence on foreign oil.
“I don’t want our environment to be trashed by any stretch of the imagination,” Thomas said. “I don’t want dirty air, I don’t want dirty water, but I want a reasonable approach to supply our needs.”
Congressman Salud Carbajal was quick to make his position known, hours before the White House signing.
“This order poses a direct threat to our local tourism economies and the success to our local business,” Carbajal said, referring to his 24th District constituents in Santa Barbara County.
Santa Barbara environmentalists agreed.
“This is a terrible idea,” said Owen Bailey, Executive Director of the Environmental Defense Center. “This takes us in the wrong direction.”
Bailey pointed out the Environmental Defense Center that he now heads was created because of the massive oil spill of 1969, which gave rise to Earth Day celebrations, worldwide. Bailey said his staff and volunteers will work tirelessly to make sure the President doesn’t make good on his new coastal quest.
“You can’t wave a wand and have platforms show up on our horizon,” Bailey said. “This is a long process and it starts with a lease plan and then (the) need to get public comment. We’re going to be involved every step of the way.”
This executive order comes just two years shy of the Refugio oil spill and days after Platform Holly was decommissioned in federal waters off our coast.