Paul Naude Pens Opinion Piece on Threat of Off Shore Drilling
Editor’s note: The San Diego Union Tribune published this Op/Ed by Vissla CEO Paul Naude, President of the SIMA Environmental Fund.
Offshore drilling a threat to beach life and local economies
The San Diego Union Tribune
By Paul Naude
Beach life is synonymous with California, and millions of tourists and locals alike enjoyed our beaches this summer with a blanket, surfboard, or good book. These visitors spent billions of dollars on hotels, dining, recreation, and patronizing local businesses. But this core part of California’s identity and economy is under threat from the Trump administration’s proposal to expand offshore drilling to nearly every section of America’s coast line.
The good news is that Congress is on the case. The U.S. House recently passed two bills, with bipartisan support, which would permanently protect the Pacific coast and other regions of the country from the threat of offshore drilling. We had a strong showing of support from the California House delegation and now it’s time for the Senate to get the job done.
I know that because this involves Washington, many people are inclined to dismiss it as “just politics.” But there is much more than that at stake here: Offshore oil drilling, and the dangers that accompany it, are an immediate and significant threat to an economic powerhouse of our state – the Pacific Ocean and its 3,400-mile California coastline. Americans have witnessed these threats first hand, from the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The surfing industry is one of many U.S. industries that would be negatively impacted by expanded offshore drilling. As the vice president of the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA) and president of the SIMA Environmental Fund, I understand what’s at risk. We represent 72 global brands, a number of them with headquarters based in California communities up and down the coast, including San Diego. Our industry generates $4 billion annually in California alone; an oil spill that pollutes our ocean environment would shutter beaches and dampen demand for the services and products we provide – it would be a monumental economic setback.
And the surfing industry is just a piece of what’s at risk here. Clean beaches and a healthy ocean are critical drivers of our ocean economies and provide over 555,000 jobs and $43.5 billion in spending in California annually. We must do everything we can to preserve our coast, which is why SIMA has joined the Business Alliance for Protecting the Pacific Coast (BAPPC), the leading business voice opposing new and expanded oil and gas development off the Pacific Coast.
BAPPC currently has membership representing over 4,000 West Coast businesses, and is growing rapidly. Members span California’s unique and powerful economy, including the surfing industry, coastal tourism, restaurants, recreation outfitters, the wedding industry, and fishermen, as well as several chambers of commerce.
Buoyed by this strong business voice and economic case, our elected representatives have been making progress pushing the Trump administration to scrap the plan. The House of Representatives has passed legislation to protect the Pacific, Atlantic and Florida gulf coasts from future offshore drilling with support from both major political parties.
Now it’s the Senate’s turn to listen to the will of the American people and approve this important legislation.
Opposition to offshore drilling is widespread and continues to grow around the nation. Currently, 44 U.S. senators and 264 U.S. representatives have opposed expanded offshore drilling. On the West Coast, nearly 100 cities and counties have taken action through passing resolutions to oppose any plans to expand offshore drilling.
The challenge here is clear: We cannot rest easy until new drilling in our coastal waters has been taken off the table completely. SIMA and BAPPC are calling on businesses and community members to continue fighting to protect the California coastline, the state’s economy and our way of life from the dangers of offshore drilling.
Naude is the vice president of the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA) and president of the SIMA Environmental Fund, an industry group representing 72 global surf brands, as well as the CEO and founder of Aliso Viejo-based surf brand Vissla.