An energy bill that's bad for marine mammals and most everything else on the planet

For decades, environmental activists in California have battled to keep the oil and gas industries from turning the state’s coastline into a West Coast version of the Gulf of Mexico oil fields.

Their allies in Congress and, occasionally, the White House have helped their cause by placing (temporary) constraints on oil and gas leases, enacting the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and designating national marine monuments that protect swaths of ocean water from any kind of drilling. These are all sensible, smart restrictions designed to allow the oceans and the animal and plant life within them to thrive — while safeguarding the vulnerable coastline from the sort of spill that dumped 21,000 gallons of crude oil into the waters near Santa Barbara in 1969.

So it’s disturbing to see a bill in the House of Representatives that would upend many of these protections and functions as little more than a wish list for the oil industry. HR 4239, the SECURE American Energy Act, would strip the president’s ability to designate a national marine monument that’s off-limits to drilling, remove crucial protections for marine mammals, ease regulations on exploratory drilling in the Arctic region, and mandate the sale of offshore wind leases off the coast of California within a year of the bill’s passage.

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