Governor Brown Takes Action to Protect Oceans


CORONADO – Taking action to combat climate change and help protect California’s oceans, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today called on President Barack Obama to use his authority to permanently prohibit new offshore oil and gas leasing in federal waters off the coast of California, signed an agreement with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to help expand offshore renewable energy development and joined global leaders to launch the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification.

“Climate change degrades our oceans and coastline,” said Governor Brown at a meeting of the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification in Coronado. “Today, California is taking additional steps to reduce ocean acidity, boost renewable energy and prevent further coastal oil and gas drilling.”

Stopping Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling

In a letter sent today to President Obama, Governor Brown called on the administration to use its authority under Section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to permanently withdraw federal waters off the coast of California from new offshore oil and gas leasing and guarantee that future oil and gas drilling in these waters is prohibited.

“Clearly, large new oil and gas reserves would be inconsistent with our overriding imperative to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and combat the devastating impacts of climate change,” Governor Brown wrote. “Now is the time to make permanent the protection of our ocean waters and beaches from new oil and gas drilling.”

Boosting Offshore Renewable Energy

Governor Brown also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today to renew and expand a joint commitment to develop more renewable power, including offshore clean energy. Under the agreement, California and the U.S. Department of the Interior will coordinate the environmental review of potential marine renewable energy projects, such as offshore wind and wave energy, continue to identify offshore areas for potential projects, and update permitting guidance for these projects. Today’s MOU builds on the creation of the California Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force launched earlier this year.

Addressing Ocean Acidification

Additionally, Governor Brown joined Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Chile in the United States Patricio Utreras and Consul General of France in San Francisco Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens today to launch a new partnership of jurisdictions around the world committed to protecting coastal communities and economies from the threat of rising ocean acidity, called the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification.

The ocean absorbs a third of the carbon dioxide that humans release into the atmosphere, which raises the water’s acidity and harms sea creatures that are vital food sources for marine life. The rising levels of poisonous ocean acidity, along with warming waters, also damage coral reefs, dissolve oyster shells and harm marine fisheries around the world. The oceans have become 30 percent more acidic since scientists began taking measurements, and the average acidity of the surface ocean is projected to double over pre-industrial levels by the end of this century.

California is combatting ocean acidification through a number of landmark policies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases. Today’s announcement builds on the ongoing work of the California Ocean Protection Council, which has also joined with other states to help address ocean acidification. Earlier this year, Governor Brown signed legislation to support this work and develop projects, in coordination with other states, that reduce carbon dioxide levels through marine habitat conservation and restoration.

California’s Leadership on Climate Change

California is playing a world-leading role in setting aggressive climate goals, broadening collaboration among subnational leaders and taking action to reduce climate pollutants.

In recent weeks, Governor Brown issued a joint release with the governors of Oregon and Washington and the premier of British Columbia reaffirming their commitment to climate action at the close of COP22. The Governor also announced 29 new members to the Under2 Coalition, an international climate pact formed by California and Baden-Württemberg, Germany among cities, states and countries to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius, the level of potentially catastrophic consequences. A total of 165 jurisdictions have now joined the coalition representing more than a billion people and $25.7 trillion in combined GDP – more than one-third of the global economy.

In September, California took bold action to advance its climate goals, establishing the most ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in North America and the nation’s toughest restrictions on destructive super pollutants. The Governor also signed legislation that directs cap-and-trade funds to greenhouse gas reducing programs which benefit disadvantaged communities, support clean transportation and protect natural ecosystems.

This action builds on landmark legislation the Governor signed in October 2015 to generate half of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and double the rate of energy efficiency savings in California buildings. Governor Brown has also committed to reducing today’s petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent within the next 15 years; make heating fuels cleaner; and manage farm and rangelands, forests and wetlands so they can store carbon.

Over the past year and a half, the Governor has traveled to the United Nations headquarters in New York, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, France, the Vatican in Italy and the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto, Canada to call on other leaders to join California in the fight against climate change. Governor Brown also joined an unprecedented alliance of heads of state, city and state leaders – convened by the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund – to urge countries and companies around the globe to put a price on carbon.

These efforts to broaden collaboration among subnational leaders build on a number of other international climate change agreements with leaders from the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Mexico, China, North America, Japan, Israel, Peru and Chile and Governor Brown’s efforts to gather hundreds of world-renowned researchers and scientists around a groundbreaking call to action – called the consensus statement – which translates key scientific climate findings from disparate fields into one unified document.

The impacts of climate change are already being felt in California and will disproportionately impact the state’s most vulnerable populations.