SACRAMENTO, California, August 28, 2018 (ENS) – California is using its control over the last three miles between the Pacific Ocean and the shore to thwart President Donald Trump’s plans to open the Pacific Outer Continental Shelf to new drilling for oil and gas.

State lawmakers today passed a bill that would bar the State Lands Commission from approving any new leases for pipelines, piers, wharves, or other infrastructure needed to support new federal oil and gas development in the three-mile area off the coast that is controlled by the state.

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Oil drilling platform about two miles offshore in California state waters (Photo courtesy U.S. Government)

The bill also prohibits any lease renewal, extension or modification that would support the production, transportation or processing of new oil and gas.

The bill states, “…the commission or a local trustee shall not enter into any new lease or other conveyance authorizing new construction of oil- and gas-related infrastructure upon tidelands and submerged lands within state waters associated with Pacific Outer Continental Shelf leases issued after January 1, 2018.”

The bill does not affect activities “undertaken to repair or maintain any pipeline or other infrastructure used to convey oil or natural gas or any other activity necessary to ensure the safe operation of infrastructure used in the exploration, development, or production of oil or natural gas.”

Nor does it prohibit any activity undertaken to convey oil or natural gas produced from state waters.

California has a long-standing bipartisan commitment to protecting its coast from new offshore oil and gas drilling.

Since January, when President Donald Trump announced his intention to open U.S. coastlines to drilling, California lawmakers have been wrestling this bill through the Legislature.

It’s the legislators who represent the coastal city of Santa Barbara who have been pushing this legislation through.

In May, State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson’s bill to thwart the Trump Administration’s efforts to expand federal oil drilling off the California coast passed the Senate floor on a 24 to eight vote. Senator Jackson represents Santa Barbara.

“The Trump Administration’s proposal to dramatically expand offshore oil drilling is dangerous, reckless, and a direct threat to our coastal communities. California must stand firm in our opposition to this expansion, which could devastate our marine ecology, public health, and coastal economy,” said Senator Jackson.

After the Assembly’s approval today, the amended version of the bill, co-authored by Santa Barbara Assemblymembers Al Muratsuchi and Monique Limón, returns to the California Senate for another confirming vote.

“We need to protect our beautiful South Bay coast and as well as coasts throughout California. This bill will help protect the health of the residents who live and work near the coast as well as the marine environment,” said Muratsuchi today.

“The threat and reality of oil spills impact all communities. Our legislature joins this growing multitude of voices in taking legislative action against the shortsighted expansion of offshore oil drilling,” said Assemblymember Limón.

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Oil drilling platform in federal waters seven miles from Point Conception, California. Photo courtesy U.S. Government)

The vote to approve this legislation comes as the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) have prepared a draft programmatic environmental assessment evaluating the environmental impacts of oil and gas activities on the Outer Continental Shelf offshore California.

“Ensuring environmentally sustainable energy production is central to BSEE’s mission,” said BSEE Director Scott Angelle, who argues for more activity in the offshore oil and gas fields. He said August 22, “Accepting, reviewing, and approving these permits would allow for the continued orderly and environmentally sound production of oil and gas from the reservoirs on the 38 active leases located in federal waters offshore southern California.”

A Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) study released July 25 found that more than two-thirds of likely voters (67%) oppose more oil drilling off the California coast.

Across parties, an overwhelming majority of registered Democrats (82%) and a strong majority of independents (66%) are opposed, while a majority of Republicans (54%) are in favor.

Offshore oil drilling jeopardizes marine ecosystems, coastal economies based on fishing and tourism, and the health and safety of marine animals.

Since 1986, according to the PPIC, more than 600 oil and gas pipeline spills, explosions and other incidents have occurred in California, causing at least $769 million in damages, 200 injuries and close to 50 deaths.

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