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65 CA Cities, Counties Support Blocking Offshore Drilling

The oil platform Gail, located near Santa Barbara, is one of 24 rigs in federal waters off the California coast. (California Bureau of Ocean Energy Management)
The oil platform Gail, located near Santa Barbara, is one of 24 rigs in federal waters off the California coast. (California Bureau of Ocean Energy Management)
August 15, 2018

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Two bills designed to thwart the Trump administration's plans for an offshore oil-drilling boom are to come before state lawmakers today.

The bills would forbid any new infrastructure on land or in California state waters to facilitate the transfer of oil from any new federal drilling leases. The move comes after the feds announced plans to open up almost all federal waters to oil drilling and start auctioning oil leases in California next year.

Ashley Blacow, Pacific policy and communications manager for the nonprofit group Oceana, said the legislation would be a major barrier to any new drilling off the coast.

"So, it would make it exceptionally expensive for oil companies to be able to transport that offshore oil in a different way," she said. "They'd have to use very expensive shipping mechanisms that would make it extremely cost-prohibitive."

Assembly Bill 1775 already has passed the Assembly, and is in the Senate Appropriations Committee today. The Senate version, SB 834, now goes before the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Some 65 California cities and counties already have passed resolutions condemning the administration's planned expansion of offshore oil drilling.

Blacow said any additional oil leases would increase the threat of a catastrophic leak or a blowout.

"We need to put into place appropriate barriers to ensure that we don't risk the types of oil spills off our coast that we've seen before," she said. "California's communities and wildlife, and local economies, cannot afford the devastation that oil spills cause."

In 1969, a major oil spill off the Santa Barbara coastline horrified the public and has been credited with giving rise to the modern environmental movement.

The text is online for AB 1775 and SB 834.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA