California governor signs bill to block offshore oil drilling
Governor of California Edmund G. Brown Jr. has signed two pieces of legislation proposed by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and Assembly member Al Muratsuchi to block new federal offshore oil drilling along California’s coast.
The governor signed the bills over the last weekend and announced the state’s opposition to the federal government’s plan to expand oil drilling on public lands in California.
Brown said: “Today, California’s message to the Trump administration is simple: Not here, not now. We will not let the federal government pillage public lands and destroy our treasured coast.”
This action came days before grassroots activists, mayors, governors, heads of industry and international leaders convene in San Francisco for the express purpose of mobilizing climate action at the Global Climate Action Summit scheduled to be held from September 12-14, 2018.
The two legislations, designated SB 834 and AB 1775, block the Trump administration’s plan to expand offshore oil drilling by prohibiting new leases for new construction of oil and gas-related infrastructure, such as pipelines, within state waters if the federal government authorizes any new offshore oil leases.
Senator Jackson said: “From the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill to the 2015 Refugio spill, I represent a community that knows all too well the devastation oil spills can bring to our economy and environment. I’m very pleased to see this legislation signed into law because we’ve always known, that if we don’t drill, it can’t spill.”
The bills also require new public notices and processes for lease renewals, extension amendments or modifications to authorize new construction of oil and gas-related infrastructure associated with new federal leases. There has been no federal expansion of oil and gas drilling along California’s coastline for more than 30 years.
Muratsuchi added: “With the signing of AB 1775 and SB 834, California is fighting back against the Trump administration’s plan to expand offshore oil drilling off California’s coast. We are standing up to protect the South Bay in my district and our state’s entire coast from the threat of more offshore oil drilling and ugly oil rigs.
“I thank Governor Brown for leading the resistance and Senator Jackson for working with me to protect our state’s multibillion-dollar coastal economy and beautiful beaches and coastline.”
California set to combat climate change
Separately, Governor Brown submitted the state’s formal opposition to the Bureau of Land Management’s proposal to open new public land and mineral estates for oil and gas lease sales as well as put his signature on signed AB 2864 by Assembly member Monique Limón which will improve the assessment of damage and restoration and mitigation measures after an oil spill affecting coastal resources.
“The Bureau’s proposal to open up new areas of the state to oil and gas production demonstrates an ignorance of these critical developments and is contrary to the course California has set to combat climate change and to meet its share of the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement. The Bureau should abandon this effort and not pursue opening any new areas for oil and gas leases in this state,” said Governor Brown in a letter to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.
In addition to the Governor’s letter, the state also included comments on the proposal from the California Department of Conservation, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the California Department of Water Resources, the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the California Air Resources Board, and the State Water Resources Control Board.
A history of opposition to offshore drilling
Earlier this year, Governor Brown joined Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Washington Governor Jay Inslee to condemn the Trump administration’s proposal to expand oil and gas offshore drilling.
The Governor has also voiced California’s opposition to this proposal in discussions with the U.S. Secretary of the Interior in January and February.
Also, in late 2016, Governor Brown called on the federal government to use its authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to withdraw federal waters off the coast of California from new offshore oil and gas leasing and guarantee the prohibition of future oil and gas drilling in these waters.
Not the first objection to Trump’s offshore drilling plans
California is the latest example of opposition to offshore drilling with the latest coming from conservation groups led by Earthjustice.
The organizations led by Earthjustice sued the Trump administration back in July for opening up more than 78 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico to offshore drilling.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) warned against offshore drilling in the Beaufort Sea, following BOEM’s call for nominations for a proposed lease sale off Alaska, while stating that it would be a huge risk to the ecological future of the Arctic itself.
In addition, New York state and Florida also requested exemption from the from the Department of Interior’s new five-year National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. Also, several members of Congress introduced legislation to stop drilling for oil and gas off the coasts of New England.
Offshore Energy Today Staff