"A reef is a natural, alive animal system. An oil well is an oil well. It's absolutely ludicrous to call an oil well a reef," said Gordon Labedz, a member of the Sierra Club's Coastal Protection Committee.
"When they dump the entire thing underwater because they don't want to pay the cost of dismantling these atrocities, they're creating an enormous amount of toxic pollution in the ocean. Those establishments are just completely covered with chemicals and petrol products."
The Surfrider Foundation of San Clemente supports artificial reefs only as replacements for natural reefs destroyed by people.
"Our position is that artificial reefs should be looked at when you have an existing reef habitat that's been impacted by human activity," said Eve Kliszewski, Surfrider's environmental director.
Susan Jordan, a board member of the League for Coastal Protection, disputes the proposal's basic premise that a rig could ever be a reef.