In 2012, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) claimed it would be “a sin against our people” if the United States did not open up more coastal areas to offshore oil drilling. His views were no mystery then, and they are no mystery today.
The Trump administration is itching to open up more coastal areas to offshore oil drilling, and Rohrabacher has staunchly supported the effort every step of the way. He joined an August 2017 letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, along with more than 100 House Republicans, encouraging the administration to explore more opportunities for offshore oil drilling.
Yet in a Facebook “town hall” where he took hand-picked questions from his staff, Rohrabacher says, “I didn’t say I supported more offshore drilling. I said I support the President’s lifting the ban on offshore oil drilling.”
It is unclear what distinction Rohrabacher is trying to draw with this comment. With a ban in place, there can be no more offshore oil drilling. The only logical reason to lift such a ban would be to open up coastal areas to more offshore drilling.
Which is exactly what Rohrabacher tried to do with a congressional bill in 2008. Rohrabacher was one of the original co-sponsors of the Maximize Offshore Resource Exploration (MORE) Act. According to the Orange County Register, the bill would revoke the congressional moratorium on offshore oil drilling and “allow drilling off the coast of California.”
Rohrabacher has fought numerous times over the course of his congressional career against “environmental radicals who have prevented us from doing offshore oil drilling,” as he said in 2012.
Rohrabacher’s semantic wordplay may be influenced by recent protests in his district against more offshore oil drilling.
“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.
In addition to protesters, polls show more than 60 percent of voters in Rohrabacher’s district oppose more offshore oil drilling.
His support for drilling may play a part in the fact that only 38 percent of his voters approve of his job performance, and 51 percent are not inclined to re-elect him come November.
Misleading constituents about his position on such an important issue is unlikely to improve his standing with voters.