In early January, the Trump administration proposed the largest ever expansion of offshore oil and natural gas drilling, including miles and miles of California coastlines.
California’s Santa Barbara coastline was the epicenter of the modern environmental movement, after a 1969 oil spill ravaged the beaches, killed untold amounts of sea life, and devastated the tourism industry.
The residents of California are clearly opposed to more offshore drilling. A recent poll shows that only 25 percent of Californians support more drilling, with almost three times that number, 69 percent, opposed to it. In fact, this is the highest level of opposition to offshore drilling in more than a decade of Public Policy Institute of California asking the question.
In the face of the potential environmental disasters, as well as strong opposition from constituents, this ought to be an easy issue for even Republicans to oppose. Yet most California Republicans have remained silent.
Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) has made no public comment through his congressional website, Twitter, or Facebook page. Given his record of voting for virtually every Trump-backed proposal, including raising taxes on Californians and trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, this silent complicity comes as no surprise.
Perhaps Knight is also influenced by the $70,000+ in campaign donations he has accepted from the oil and gas industry.
Other California Republicans may have their own financial interests, rather than the concerns of their constituents, in mind.
Two Orange County Republicans, Reps. Ed Royce and Mimi Walters, have together accepted more more than half a million dollars from the oil and gas industry. While Royce has been cashing checks from Big Oil for more than two decades, Walters has cashed almost $200,000 from the industry in just two terms in Washington, D.C.
And Rep. Dana Rohrabacher has taken more than $90,000 from Big Oil, and remains silent as he is embroiled in controversy due to his deep ties to Russia. In the past, Rohrabacher has vocally supported more offshore drilling.
More than 70 percent of Californians say that “the condition of the ocean and beaches is very important to California’s future economy and quality of life.”
Yet the Republican congressional delegation seems more interested in parroting the interests of their corporate donors than listening to the voices of Californians.
There is one place that Californians can guarantee their voices will be heard loud and clear: at the ballot box in November.