SACRAMENTO — Impassioned speeches from oil-drilling foes on the steps of the state Capitol on Thursday sounded like echo from earliest days of the environmental movement in California — and a crowd of about 700 people opposing the Trump administration’s expansive offshore extraction plan relished every word.
“What are we going to say to Donald Trump?” yelled state Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, one of the event’s organizers. “Hell no!”
Assemblyman Jim Wood, another Healdsburg Democrat, led a chant that had the crowd calling out, “No drill, no spill!”
“People who have fought this fight for 40 years are here today,” Wood said. “We need you.”
Lawmakers, Latinos, Native Americans and a UC professor spoke during an hourlong rally at the Capitol, followed by a march several blocks to a library gallery where the U.S. Department of Interior held its first and only public meeting in California on the offshore leasing plan announced last month by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
The plan, the largest offering of oil-drilling rights to be sold by the federal government, includes 47 potential leases in every ocean that touches the United States, with six along the California coast.
State officials, including Gov. Jerry Brown, as well as Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, and 36 other Democratic members of Congress immediately blasted the blueprint. On Wednesday, the State Lands Commission sent a letter to the federal government asserting it would not permit new or existing pipelines to bring oil from new wells ashore.
Glen Colwell of Windsor stood near the front of the crowd holding high a sign that said, “We will resist.”
“I want to preserve our ability to forage fresh seafood in unpolluted waters off the pristine California coast,” he said.
Colwell’s sign included a photo of him holding a 36-inch ling cod he caught while fishing from his kayak at Stillwater Cove on the Sonoma Coast.
“I wouldn’t cook him seafood if it was polluted,” said his wife, Lorrie Colwell.
Dianne Monroe of Santa Rosa, wearing a necklace with a polished piece of an abalone shell, said she lived in Texas during the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
“I am here for future generations to have the beauty of the coastline, the nourishment we draw from the sea,” she said.
Protesters carried signs saying “Water and oil don’t mix,” “Many religions, one ocean, one earth for all” and a blunt “Frack you, Trump.”
The federal oil drilling plan was an outgrowth of President Trump’s “America First” energy policy announced in April. It has faced unanimous opposition from California’s political leaders, with the fiercest backlash from coastal legislators.
State Sen. Ricardo Lara, a Democrat who represents East Los Angeles, made of point of aligning himself with the legislators from those shoreline districts.
“You mess with our coast, you pollute our cities,” he said. “Why are we going backward?”
State Sen. Hannah Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, called the Trump administration “the most backward in the history of the nation.”
The catastrophic Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969 ruptured California’s relationship with offshore oil drilling and helped spawn the modern environmental movement.
Jackson told the protesters they are “the people who are going to send a message to Washington, D.C.: Do not pollute our planet for profit.”