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Federal officials to expand national marine sanctuaries on Sonoma, Mendocino coasts

Waves bash along the rocky coastline north of Bodega Bay, on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat

By GUY KOVNER & BRETT WILKISON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The four-decade battle to preserve Sonoma County’s scenic coast from offshore oil drilling came to an apparent end Thursday as federal officials announced plans to expand two marine sanctuaries, putting an area the size of Delaware off-limits to energy development.

The Obama administration, under the auspices of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, intends to add about 2,770 square miles to two sanctuaries that were created in the 1980s and, along with a third sanctuary, currently extend from Cambria in San Luis Obispo County north to Bodega Bay.

If the expansion is implemented in a process that could take a year or two, the Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones sanctuaries would be extended from Bodega Bay to Point Arena in southern Mendocino County.

“It’s a big day for the Sonoma Coast,” said Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, who attended a news conference in Washington announcing the expansion plan.

Woolsey, accompanied by fellow House Democrats and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., hailed the plan as a permanent protection for biologically rich North Coast waters that support the fishing and tourism industries and afford the public unmatched natural splendor.

“At long last, we’re on the road to giving these waters off the Sonoma County coast the protection they need and deserve,” Woolsey said.

Boxer, whose effort to protect the coast dates back to the 1980s, called the expansion plan announcement “a historic milestone.”

In a telephone interview, Woolsey, who is retiring next month, said the plan is also a fitting cap to her 20 years in Congress.

“This will be my legacy when it gets completed,” she said, calling the untrammeled coast “something we’ll be able to see and appreciate forever more.”

Woolsey, who was elected to Congress in 1992, has been trying to get the sanctuaries expanded by legislative action since 2004 but saw her bill die in the Senate in 2008 and more recently was thwarted by oil-friendly House Republicans.

Last month, she and Boxer took a new tack, asking President Barack Obama to establish — with the stroke of a pen — a marine monument protecting the same coastal waters.

But the White House balked at the idea, proposing instead to expand the sanctuaries, a process that can also be done without congressional action but involves public hearings.

Woolsey said she had discussed the expansion last month with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who told her it was not under his jurisdiction but rather the Department of Commerce.

In her last push, Woolsey said she pitched the plan to Vice President Joe Biden at a White House Christmas party earlier this month and briefly to President Obama during a photo session with lawmakers.

Woolsey said she normally wouldn’t have lobbied the chief executive that way, “but I’m not going to be around that much longer.”

The sanctuary expansion plan “wouldn’t have happened if the White House had been against it,” she said.

But the battle to prevent oil rigs from sprouting along the North Coast dates back to the late 1970s, involving previous public officials and environmentalists like Richard Charter.

“This is Santa arriving and landing on the beach,” said Charter, a Jenner area resident and senior fellow of the Ocean Foundation.

Drilling foes fended off their nemesis through a patchwork of annual moratoriums that lapsed in 2009.

(See more photos of the Sonoma coast)

Over time, plans for offshore drilling packed public hearings in the region, while roadblocks to permanent protection thwarted a long line of North Coast legislators and made the issue one of the most vexing for environmental advocates.

Steadily, the push for protection earned backing from nearly all of the region’s local elected officials, Charter noted.

“The wave of support for protecting our coastal economy and all of the special places on this coast just became too big to ignore,” he said

The proposed expansion of the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank sanctuaries takes in more than 60 miles of coastline.

Biologists say the upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water along the North Coast creates one of the richest feeding grounds in the Pacific Ocean for fish, birds and marine mammals.

Combined with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, they currently stretch from Cambria to Bodega Bay. Managed by NOAA, the sanctuaries allow fishing but prohibit oil drilling and other commercial activities such as seafloor mining and discharges by ocean liners.

California Democratic Reps. Lois Capps, Sam Farr, Jackie Speier and Barbara Lee joined Boxer and Woolsey at the press conference.

Farr, D-Carmel, called the plans one of Woolsey’s “crowning achievements.”

“I can’t think of a finer way of paying tribute to your 20 years in Congress,” he said.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco said the plan was “a tribute to the passion and perseverance of Lynn Woolsey.”

The expanded sanctuary “will stand as a fitting capstone to her distinguished career defending our coastal heritage,” Pelosi said.

Woolsey, a former Petaluma city councilwoman, is best known for her early and vocal opposition to the Iraq war and as an advocate for women, families and the disadvantaged.

Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association and an ally of Woolsey on coast protection, hailed the proposed sanctuary expansion.

Fishing interests have worked well with the federal sanctuaries, Grader said.

“It’s provided an extra level of protection for those waters that are so valuable to us,” he said.

Tupper Hull, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association, said the oil industry recognizes that opposition to drilling is well established in California.

Most of the state’s offshore oil is in Southern California, he said, and there’s little of it in the North Coast areas designated for protection.

“It’s not an area our members have expressed strong interest in,” Hull said.

But Charter said the oil industry remains interested in several areas off Mendocino and Humboldt counties.

Woolsey said that extending protection farther north will be a job for her successors.

“It will happen someday,” she said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday a series of scoping meetings on the proposal to expand two national marine sanctuaries.
The plan, unveiled in Washington by NOAA officials and Democratic lawmakers, would more than double the size of the Gulf of the Farallones and the Cordell Bank marine sanctuaries, extending their northern edge from Bodega Bay up to Point Arena.
The agency is soliciting comments on the expansion plan through March 1 and is holding three meetings to explain the proposal and take comments.

THREE PUBLIC MEETINGS SET

The meetings are at:
Bodega Bay Grange Hall, 6 p.m. Jan. 24
Gualala Community Center, 6 p.m. Feb. 12
Point Arena High School, 6 p.m. Feb. 13

COASTAL PROTECTION EFFORTS: A TIMELINE

1972: Congress passes legislation authorizing creation of national marine sanctuaries.
Late 1970s: Battle over offshore oil drilling on North Coast heats up.
Early 1980s: Interior Secretary James Watt announces plans to open up federal leases off North Coast to drilling, prompting public outcry.
1981: Gulf of Farallones sanctuary established.
1985: Compromise deal offered by then-Rep. Doug Bosco to keep most areas of North Coast off-limits to drilling until 2000 but allow development in other areas. Deal is first accepted and then killed by Interior Secretary Donald Hodel, who said it restricted drilling access to too much of the coast, including the Point Arena basin. The California delegation later proposed a full ban, then bipartisan consensus in Congress led to a legislative moratorium, which was backed by a presidential ban. Both were allowed to expire when George
W. Bush left office in 2009.
1987: Then-Rep. Barbara Boxer introduces bill seeking an ocean sanctuary on the entire coast.
1988: More than 2,000 people packed an old hall and spilled into the street in Fort Bragg for a meeting with Department of Interior officials over oil development plans. Dubbed “the day California said no.”
1989: Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska; Cordell Bank sanctuary established.
2004: Rep. Lynn Woolsey introduces bill seeking northward expansion of Farallones and Cordell Bank sanctuaries.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Writer Brett Wilkison at 521-5295 or brett.wilkison@pressdemocrat.com.





15 Responses to “Federal officials to expand national marine sanctuaries on Sonoma, Mendocino coasts”

  1. R. B. Fish says:

    Well said Skippy. I happen to have known a number of these types mostly at the upper levels and many with a lot of money. Brand names many people would recognize. They are and remain absolute hyprocrites simply masquerading as intellectual environmentalists. Pathetic phonies. Unfortunately, the street level eco-nazi’s are simply pawns doing the dirty work. One should not forgot there are billions of dollars to be made pretending to support the “turtle” deep ecology program.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  2. Skippy says:

    The “smaller footprint” fraud is based on the principle that, of all God’s creatures, only Man is a pestilence and a blight on the sacred planet.
    Such homosapiensphobia is speciesist and intellectually indefensible.
    These utopian fantasies have an endgame; namely the diminishment on humanity to insignificance.
    The people-haters may be suffering from a terminal self-loathing, but it does not change the inarguable fact that everything Man does is perfectly natural, as we are native creatures of this Earth.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  3. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Nora Gonzalez-nothing wrong with horses. If more of us AT LEAST TRIED to make a smaller footprint this whole planet would be in a lot better shape.

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 18

  4. Mac E. Velli says:

    from the Wildlands Project Revealed website
    * The goal of the Wildlands Project is to set aside approximately fifty (50) percent of the North American continent (Turtle Island) as “wild land” for the preservation of biological diversity.
    * The project seeks to do this by creating “reserve networks” across the continent. Reserves are made up of the following:
    o Cores, created from public lands such as National Forest and Parks
    o Buffers, often created from private land adjoining the cores to provide additional protection
    o Corridors, a mix of public and private lands usually following along rivers and wildlife migration routes
    * The primary characteristics of core areas are that they are large (100,000 to 25 million acres), and allow for little, if any, human use.
    * The primary characteristics of buffers are that they allow for limited human use so long as they are “managed with native biodiversity as a preeminent concern.”
    * Moral and ethical guidelines for the Wildlands Project are based on the philosophy of Deep Ecology.
    * The eight point platform of Deep Ecology can be summarized as follows:
    o All life (human and non-human) has equal value.
    o Resource consumption above what is needed to supply “vital” human needs is immoral.
    o Human population must be reduced
    o Western civilization must radically change present economic, technological, and ideological structures.
    o Believers have an obligation to try to implement the necessary changes.
    * The Wildlands Project itself is supported by hundreds of groups working towards its long-term implementation. Implementation may take 100 years or more.
    * The Wildlands Project has received millions of dollars in support from wealthy private and corporate foundations such as the Turner Foundation, Patagonia, W. Alton Jones Foundation, Lyndhurst Foundation, etc.

    Conclusion:
    The Wildlands Project exist within legal boundaries, however that should not prevent us from being concerned. At the very least, it advocates an extreme manifestation of environmental and public policy. Therefore, any claim the Wildlands Project makes toward public policy must be debated, and ultimately decided, in the public arena. Yet to date it has existed almost anonymously; beyond the knowledge of the wider public. It must be examined out from behind the cover of more general environmental concerns, held up for public scrutiny, and either accepted or rejected by a public fully aware of its implications. Failing to do so could have dire consequences, for as John Adams once wrote, “Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge by the people.”

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  5. Snarky says:

    http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/dec/24/state-parks-department-mishandled-donations/

    The link to a San Diego paper, above, is just ANOTHER important park story that the Press Democrat refuses to publish. Your news, Sonoma County, is being restricted and filtered by your “local” paper intent on manipulating your thoughts.

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  6. Follower says:

    In 1995 Bill Clinton vetoed Drilling in Anwar saying that it would take 10 years for that oil to even reach the market.

    As with all liberal visionary ideas,
    the “10 years to market” excuse is nothing new.

    Why can’t you just have the courage of your convictions and admit that your disdain for “Big Oil” is the reason you won’t allow drilling?

    “It’s okay, go ahead and say it, they know”

    Thumb up 18 Thumb down 3

  7. Reality Check says:

    “Drilling Oil of the California coast will NOT help in controlling our cost of gasoline as all oil is put into a world market . . .”

    What you say is true. It also betrays a lack of knowledge of how the law of supply and demand works. You can lower prices two ways: reduce demand or increase supply.

    While oil drilling off California’s coast will not increase world supply significantly, that attitude when widely adopted, and it is, drives up the price of oil.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 7

  8. Elephant says:

    The single reason that our gasoline prices are so high is that we pay whatever they charge without EVER stopping. Pure and simple. If having offshore oil wells would make a difference, how come gas prices in Los Angeles are actually a bit higher than we have here?

    And as for Lynn Woolsey, after 20 years, it’s nice that she finally did something directly for her constituents.

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 14

  9. Marc says:

    Drilling Oil of the California coast will NOT help in controlling our cost of gasoline as all oil is put into a world market and is sold to the highest bidder. Just Google it and do not fall into that trap.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 13

  10. Frank Matyus says:

    IF IT CAN’T BE GROWN…IT MUST BE MINED
    Raw materials for electronics don’t spring from the ground in the same way trees do for books. Cell phones, Flat screens, and Solar all need oil.
    Farmers need to replenish their soil. Every time you harvest crops, you remove minerals along with the food, such as phosphorus, sulphur, calcium, potassium. These are replaced with minerals which are mined.
    Anybody give a thought when brushing teeth
    The cleaning is done with abrasives (from rocks) that rub the plaque away. Abrasives are minerals like silica,
    limestone, aluminum oxide (also used in
    sandpaper), and various phosphate minerals.
    Fluoride, used to reduce cavities, comes from a mineral called fluorite. It is sometimes changed into stannous fluoride (tin fluoride).
    Most toothpaste is made white with titanium dioxide which comes from minerals called rutile, ilmenite, and anatase. Titanium dioxide also is used to make white paint.
    The sparkles in some toothpaste come from
    mica, a mineral common in many rocks.
    Unfortunately California is doing everything it can to outlaw the two most important industries we have farms and mining, both with rules, regulations and Yaxes

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 6

  11. James Bennett says:

    Jorge is sharing the soft pedal version of the UN’s Biodevesity Wildlands Project.

    The ultimate goal is self explanitory if you search it online. The little black dots indicate where humans would be allowed to reside.

    Like the rest of this enormous oppression it is rooted in contrived “problems”,lack and shotages.

    Too many people.

    Not enough.

    Not enough land (5% of America is developed), not enough water, oil, energy, food, money.

    It’s all BS. It’s not about the environment. It’s about good old fasioned oppression.

    An ICLEI charter next to the Great Lakes would have a water shortage, Nestle Corp. sells their water to China. Guess their local governmental traitors have a “Public-Private Partnership”.

    The only “problem” we have is one of loyalty.

    Thumb up 25 Thumb down 5

  12. Snarky says:

    Speaking of OIL, Nora Gonzales, Chevron Corp is moving a full EIGHT HUNDRED jobs out of California from its HQ in the East Bay.

    800 well paying jobs with full benefits lost to another state.

    Notice the Press Democrat did not report on that ?

    Thumb up 21 Thumb down 5

  13. Nora Gonzales says:

    Oil is the basis of our economy. Oil comes from drilling in the oceans and on the land where oil is found. This simple concept is lost on the progressives who want this society to revert to a horse drawn, very dark society.

    Well, many of us do not want to return to that backward way of life enjoyed in much of the third world.

    Coastal oil drilling could go along way toward solving the financial crisis in California. It is just stupid that a few can stop progress in the name of the new religion, environmentalism.

    Thumb up 18 Thumb down 9

  14. Jorge Soto says:

    The goal of the Wildlands Project is to set aside approximately fifty (50) percent of the North American continent (Turtle Island) as “wild land” for the preservation of biological diversity.
    The project seeks to do this by creating “reserve networks” across the continent. Reserves are made up of the following:
    Cores, created from public lands such as National Forest and Parks
    Buffers, often created from private land adjoining the cores to provide additional protection
    Corridors, a mix of public and private lands usually following along rivers and wildlife migration routes
    The primary characteristics of core areas are that they are large (100,000 to 25 million acres), and allow for little, if any, human use.
    The primary characteristics of buffers are that they allow for limited human use so long as they are “managed with native biodiversity as a preeminent concern.”
    Moral and ethical guidelines for the Wildlands Project are based on the philosophy of Deep Ecology.
    The eight point platform of Deep Ecology can be summarized as follows:
    All life (human and non-human) has equal value.
    Resource consumption above what is needed to supply “vital” human needs is immoral.
    Human population must be reduced
    Western civilization must radically change present economic, technological, and ideological structures.
    Believers have an obligation to try to implement the necessary changes.
    The Wildlands Project itself is supported by hundreds of groups working towards its long-term implementation. Implementation may take 100 years or more.
    The Wildlands Project has received millions of dollars in support from wealthy private and corporate foundations such as the Turner Foundation, Patagonia, W. Alton Jones Foundation, Lyndhurst Foundation, etc.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 13

  15. James Bennett says:

    You don’t suppose that aside from stealing and ultimately restricting access.
    That these traitors would calateralize our natural treasures do you?

    That’s right, use them to pay off foreign debt from our stolen money?

    No, they wouldn’t do that.

    Would they?

    No one’s that evil.

    Thumb up 21 Thumb down 10

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