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Senators to Obama: Let’s make sure Trump doesn’t drill Pacific Ocean

FILE - In this May 14, 2015, file photo, the oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer is towed toward a dock in Elliott Bay in Seattle. The rig is the first of two drilling rigs Royal Dutch Shell is outfitting for Arctic oil exploration. Some environmental groups say the Obama administration’s approval of the final permit to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean clashes with the message he will deliver when he visits Alaska later this month. Obama plans to emphasize the dangers of climate change. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FILE - In this May 14, 2015, file photo, the oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer is towed toward a dock in Elliott Bay in Seattle. The rig is the first of two drilling rigs Royal Dutch Shell is outfitting for Arctic oil exploration. Some environmental groups say the Obama administration’s approval of the final permit to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean clashes with the message he will deliver when he visits Alaska later this month. Obama plans to emphasize the dangers of climate change. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File) AP

A group of Democratic senators from Washington, Oregon and California are urging President Obama to permanently make West Coast waters off limits to oil drilling before Donald Trump takes office.

Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell of Washington state joined fellow Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer of California and Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, as well as Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, in writing Obama on Wednesday.

“Opening up the coast to more fossil fuel development poses a threat to our oceans and the coastal economies that depend on them… without a permanent withdrawal, we cannot be certain that the coastline would not see new oil and gas development in the future," the senators wrote.

The senators had earlier introduced legislation seeking to permanently ban drilling on the outer continental shelf off the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington.

Obama has not allowed new Pacific Ocean oil and gas lease sales during his presidency. But Trump, who has promised to aggressively promote drilling, could reverse course.

The senators wrote that they believe the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act gives Obama the authority to permanently withdraw federal waters from consideration for oil and gas leasing.

Sean Cockerham: 202-383-6016, @seancockerham

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