Senators Feinstein and Boxer propose ban on new offshore oil leases

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Kitty Felde/KPCC

California senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer call for permanent ban on offshore oil drilling off west coast

The U.S. senators from the three West Coast states are backing a bill to stop new federal leases for offshore oil drilling. It’s the Senate version of a measure already introduced on the House side.

Like the House bill, the measure would impose a permanent ban on new offshore oil leases. Like the House bill, it has no GOP co-sponsors.

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California says the spill in the Gulf is the beginning of a whole new chapter when it comes to offshore oil drilling. She says, "this remains an uncertain, very dirty business. There’s failed equipment, aberrant weather, old fashioned human error. And drilling in deep waters is even more risky."

Fellow California Democrat Barbara Boxer says it's not worth the risk for a mere 500 days worth of oil. "If all Americans kept their tires properly inflated," she says, drivers would get better fuel economy. "In 25 days you could save all of the oil that is present off of the west coast."

Congress passed a moratorium on west coast offshore drilling 20 years ago – but it’s expired. This new proposal would not affect current drilling off California’s coast. But it does clash with the latest version of the Senate climate change bill which does not include a permanent ban, but would allow states like California to opt out of offshore drilling.

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