SALEM, Ore. — Governor Kate Brown issued a new executive order on Thursday that blocks the development of offshore oil drilling operations along Oregon's coast.
While there has not been offshore oil drilling in Oregon or Washington since the 1960s, the New York Times reports that the Trump administration has been pushing to expand offshore drilling along both U.S. coasts since early this year.
"Oregonians have a long and proud history of standing up to defend our state," said Governor Brown. "And at a time when the Trump administration is trying to allow oil rigs to be built off nearly every coastline in America, I’m tired of waiting for the federal government to come to its senses and realize that this is terrible mistake."
A statement from Governor Brown's office said that the offshore drilling of oil and gas would directly threaten coastal economies, marine fisheries, the environment, public health and safety and resources.
However, it is unclear what the executive order will achieve. Oregon state-controlled waters only extend three miles out from the coastline — beyond that, the waters and resources beneath them are under the control of the federal government.
Governor Brown says that she has requested an exemption from offshore drilling in federal waters "similar to the exemption Florida received." In fact, the governors of most coastal states — many of them Republican — have opposed the expansion or asked for an exemption. So far, only Florida has received any indication that they might be spared.
For most coastal state governments, including Oregon, the opposition comes down to the potential impact on vital tourism and fishing industries. Governor Brown's office says that the coastal economy supports roughly 22,000 jobs and generates $2 billion in tourism, plus about 5,500 jobs and $320 million in commercial and recreational fishing. On top of that are environmental concerns for the plants and animals that make their homes along the coast.