Calling for continued ocean preservation and an abandonment of old technology, Laguna Beach became the first city in Orange County to oppose a plan by the Trump administration to open drilling for gas and oil, and fracking, off the California coastline.
In a unanimous vote, echoed by voices from the community, the Laguna Beach City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 7 supported a resolution opposing new fossil fuel drilling off the coast and fracking in existing offshore oil and gas wells.
“We put all this energy into nuclear and space programs,” said Councilman Steve Dicterow. “It baffles me that we are not environmentally more forward. No way can we support old technology of drilling off our coast. We know there are wildlife and recreational issues.”
The vote follows President Trump’s April 28 executive order urging federal agencies to expand oil and gas leasing in federal waters. Trump’s order could expose the Pacific Ocean to new oil leasing for the first time in more than 30 years.
The order also promotes a stronger dependence on fossil fuels. This goes against previous preservation actions taken by the city which strongly favor a more sustainable lifestyle through the use of alternative energy sources.
Laguna Beach joins 12 other cities including Malibu, Santa Barbara, Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Oakland in this opposition effort.
The resolution was supported by the Center for Biological Diversity, which has organized a series of California resolutions opposing offshore drilling and fracking. It was brought forward by Mayor Toni Iseman who emphasized Laguna’s reliance on the ocean and coastline for local commerce.
More than 6 million people visit the city each year for its unique coves, beaches and marine-protected area — one of only a few statewide.
Iseman also cited concerns with past incidents related to oil and gas drilling in the Pacific pointing to the April 2010 BP explosion in the Gulf of Mexico and the May 2015 oil spill off Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County that injured and killed wildlife and soiled the beaches.
There have been no new offshore oil and gas leases in California since the 1969 blowout of a well in federal waters off Santa Barbara County, she said.
A handful of community environmentalists, including filmmaker Greg MacGillivray, spoke Tuesday on behalf of the city’s support of the resolution.
“We all know Laguna Beach has fought hard for the protection of the ocean with the marine protected areas,” MacGillivray said. “I’ve witnessed change in ocean clarity in the last few years. The California perch has come back in huge schools. We have spent millions of dollars to keep our ocean clean.”
Resident Charlene Rainey told the council she remembered when oil was on the sand in Laguna decades ago.
“How more alive are our tide pools now?” she asked. “It’s so nice to have our pristine beaches.”
Ann Earhard, who called herself a lifelong conservationist, emphasized her support for the resolution.
“It’s an old solution and we need to go a different way,” she said.
Iseman praised the community support and said she hoped the momentum for opposition to drilling and fracking would spread.
“Your words were very powerful,” she said. “It’s very heartening to know the power of the individual. Hopefully, we will have other coastal and inland cities that go along with this.”