By Emily Turner

MARIN COUNTY (KPIX 5) — The Trump administration is reviewing deep-sea drilling opportunities in the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of California.

“While it looks like an empty canvas from above, it supports all of our livelihoods,” says Kathi George with the Oceanic Society.

In April, President Donald Trump ordered a review of all national marine sanctuaries that were declared within the last ten years.

Trump’s America First Offshore Energy Executive Order is supposed to review potential “lost opportunity costs” related to hard mineral mining and oil, gas and methane hydrate drilling.

The Farallones National Marine Sanctuary encompasses about 3,300 miles off the coast of Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino counties.

The expansion — the part under review — includes the 2,013 miles along the Sonoma and Mendocino coastline. They were inducted in March of 2015 in a rigorous public process that lasted more than two years.

The sanctuary itself isn’t allowed to comment about the review process, but those who support it are happy to vocalize their frustrations.

“They followed the guidelines… revisited in such a short time frame,” George said.

The Oceanic Society depends on the sanctuary for tours that support its research and programs.

The sanctuary is home to the great California current that supports kelp forests, a newly discovered form of coral and endangered species.

Ironically, the Western States Petroleum Association says they have no interest in the area, saying instead, “Our member companies proudly operate in some of the toughest regulatory environments in the country, where we power economies and lead in environmental protection. Our focus is on how best to produce and refine needed petroleum products in California and the West.”

Local lawmakers have passed resolutions and letters of support to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is in charge of the review.

The public can contact the U.S. Department of Commerce until July 26th to file your support – or your arguments – against opening up the Farallon expansion for drilling.


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