San Diego County Supervisors oppose offshore oil drilling, create women's equity ordinance

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Article by: Deborah Sullivan Brennnan

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors called for curtailing offshore oil drilling Wednesday, voting unanimously to support the American Coasts and Oceans Protection Act introduced in Congress by Rep. Mike Levin to prohibit oil and gas leasing in Southern California.

The board also voted to develop an ordinance to establish gender equity, in line with provisions adopted by the United Nations.

Board Chair Nathan Fletcher and Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer introduced the board letter endorsing Levin’s legislation in the wake of an oil spill off Huntington Beach last month that dumped about 25,000 gallons of crude oil on Southern California beaches.

The incident was one of six major oil spills in California over the past 50 years, highlighting the damage offshore drilling poses to coastal habitat and communities, supervisors said.

“Fossil fuels are not only warming our planet, they’re fouling our coastlines and poisoning our wildlife,” Lawson-Remer said.

The Huntington Beach spill forced beach closures and deposited gobs of crude oil along the coast, mostly in Newport, Laguna and Huntington Beaches, harming businesses, threatening sensitive wetlands and killing fish and birds.

“When we see tarballs washing up across the shore, we see the impacts to our economy,” Fletcher said.

Supervisor Jim Desmond, one of two Republicans on the county board, said opposition to offshore drilling is a bipartisan issue.

“Since the 1980s San Diegans have led the effort against further drilling off the coast,” Desmond said. “Representatives from both parties agree that drilling off California is a really, really bad idea, and we’re united on that across party lines.”

Supervisor Joel Anderson, the other Republican, added an amendment to the measure directing the county to ask Gov. Gavin Newsom to expedite closure of oil platforms that are minimally operating and to seek opportunities to use those sites for renewable energy, such as for wind turbines.

In a separate action the board directed county staff to develop an ordinance that aligns with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, an international bill of rights for women adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979.

The document defines discrimination against women and establishes an agenda to eliminate it. President Jimmy Carter signed the convention in 1980, but it was never ratified by the U.S. Senate.

Instead, some city and county governments have adopted its provisions locally.

The board directed staff from the newly created county Office of Equity and Racial Justice and other relevant departments to work with the San Diego County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls to draft a San Diego County ordinance modeled after the UN bill.

“It will help us look at our young women, to make sure the doors are open to serve on boards, to have the same pay,” said Commission Chair Leah Goodwin.

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