Capitol Alert

Lawmakers lose battle to protect California coast from Trump’s oil drilling threats

A line of off-shore oil rigs in the Santa Barbara Channel near the Federal Ecological Preserve en route to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary in March 2015.
A line of off-shore oil rigs in the Santa Barbara Channel near the Federal Ecological Preserve en route to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary in March 2015. TNS

A California Senate bill meant to curtail President Donald Trump’s threat to expand offshore oil drilling in federal waters died on Friday.

Senate Bill 188 would have blocked new leases for the construction of pipelines or other infrastructure in state ocean waters necessary to expand oil and gas development. The measure would have made it more difficult and expensive to transport oil if the Trump administration moved to increase drilling in federal waters off the coast of California.

“The oil industry killed that bill,” said Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, who introduced SB 188. “They are far too powerful.”

Western States Petroleum Association, the California Independent Petroleum Association and the California Chamber of Commerce, among others, lobbied against the measure.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, who chairs the committee that held the bill on Friday, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the measure.

In a statement after the hearing, Gonzalez Fletcher said the committee took actions on dozens of bills Friday to “protect the environment,” improve life for working families, boost the economy and stick up for the state’s most vulnerable populations through its votes on all the measures it took up that day.

“This action is particularly important given the Trump administration’s daily assault on our nation’s most basic values,” she said. “Now more than ever, Californians must work tirelessly on behalf of issues ranging from economic fairness to environmental stewardship.”

Trump issued an executive order in late April that directed the secretary of the Interior to revise an Obama administration ban on new leases for oil and gas drilling in the Pacific and other areas off the U.S. coastline.

Jackson introduced SB 188 within days and described it as an attempt to protect the state’s coastal and marine waters and fishing and tourism industries.

California, which last authorized an offshore oil or gas lease in 1969, only controls waters 3 miles from the shoreline, where federal waters begin. The measure was meant to block the transport of oil and gas from federal waters to the shore.

Jackson pledged to revive the bill next year.

“At the end of the day, I’m confident that the right thing will prevail even if it doesn’t happen right away,” Jackson said.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna

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