Pristine California beaches attract millions of visitors and tourists every year, and residents in Orange County want their elected officials, Republican Reps. Dana Rohrabacher and Mimi Walters, to help keep the coasts clean.
Recently, activists held a rally at Victoria Beach in Orange County to oppose the Trump administration proposal to increase offshore oil drilling, a proposal encouraged and backed by both Rohrabacher and Walters.
“We demand Congresswoman Walters and Congressman Rohrabacher stand with their community to stop new drilling off the California coast,” said Robin Ganahl, an organizer with Climate Action Campaign.
Unfortunately, both Rohrabacher and Walters have sided with oil and gas companies over the voices of constituents.
In 2017, both embattled lawmakers signed a joint letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke encouraging the administration to explore more opportunities for offshore oil drilling.
While constituents hold rallies to make their voices heard, Rohrabacher and Walters seem to be more intent on listening to the campaign donations of oil and gas companies. Rohrabacher has raised more than $97,000 from the oil and gas industry over his career. Walters has surpassed his total, raking in more than $177,000.
“Drilling for oil off Laguna would be a disaster. We’ve invested for decades in keeping our coastal environment pristine,” John Church, a resident in the neighborhood, told the Orange County Register.
Coastal tourism and recreation provide California with $17.6 billion per year, along with more than 360,000 jobs, according to a 2015 report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
NOAA research concludes that “ocean-dependent tourism and recreation generated more than $1 billion of GDP in five California counties: San Mateo, San Francisco, San Diego, Orange, and Los Angeles.”
The idea of even more drilling does not sit well with Orange County residents. A recent poll in Rohrabacher’s district showed 61 percent of voters opposed the idea. Rohrabacher, who has called environmentalists “the worst liars in the world” and dismissed research into climate change as “junk science,” appears not to be listening to his voters.
And Walters is following his lead.
“Offshore drilling is backward,” Maria Minney, one of those gathered at Victoria Beach, told the Orange County Register. “My representative is Mimi Walters. I don’t understand how she can be from here and endorse an initiative like this.”
At the end of the gathering on the beach, volunteers went canvassing, making sure voters knew the position of their member of Congress.