West Coast
An aerial photo shows floating barriers known as booms set up to try to stop further incursion into Talbert Marsh after an oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach, Calif. Ringo Chiu/Associated Press

CA - Calif. lawmakers demand offshore drilling ban in spill's wake

An oil spill that released more than 144,000 gallons of crude along the south California coastline prompted key lawmakers to renew calls to block the state’s shores from any federal oil and gas production.

The momentum comes as Democrats look to protect provisions in their budget reconciliation package to enact a federal oil and gas leasing moratorium off the West Coast and eastern Gulf of Mexico.

“Where you drill you spill, and once again the inevitable has happened,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), a senior member of the House Natural Resources Committee, said in a tweet. “We cannot keep allowing Big Oil to cause these ecological disasters. It’s time my legislation to ban offshore drilling becomes law.”

Huffman, along with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), introduced legislation — H.R. 653 and S. 58 — earlier this year that would permanently establish a moratorium on oil and gas activities in federal waters off the California, Oregon and Washington state coastlines.

_______________________

Read Also

Tens of millions in fines expected in oil spill  Press-Enterprise

The California oil spill is endangering wildlife. Here's how authorities are trying to clean it up  WRCB-TV

California oil spill sparks race to save wildlife  Los Angeles Times

California oil spill renews calls to ban offshore drilling  Los Angeles Times

California's massive offshore oil spill: What we know  E&E News

Why CA has limited power over offshore oil production  Sacramento Bee

California oil spill renews Democrats' efforts to rein in offshore drilling  CNN

Mapping California's Oil Spill: Aging Pipes Line the Coast  The New York Times

America's offshore oil infrastructure is aging. 'We don't know there's a problem until there's a problem.'  KTVZ

Mapping California's Oil Spill: Aging Pipes Line the Coast  The New York Times

_______________________

That language was included in the House Natural Resources Committee’s contribution to the reconciliation package last month, although those provisions remain up in the air as the White House negotiates with moderates about the size and scope of the legislation.

The effort to protect California’s coastline picked up steam under the Trump administration when Interior Department officials identified the region for potential lease sales. A federal court eventually scuttled that effort, and the Biden administration has vowed to preserve current limits.

California blocked any new oil and gas drilling in state waters in the aftermath of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, which released a then record 3 million gallons of crude oil into the ocean. No new federal leases have been issued in the state since 1984, but a future administration could change that.

“This spill highlights why we must also take action to prevent future spills, including passing the West Coast Ocean Protection Act,” Feinstein, chair of the Senate’s Energy-Water spending subcommittee, said in a statement. “Californians have made it clear: We don’t want oil drilling off our coast. It’s time to stop dangerous offshore drilling and invest in safer, cleaner energy solutions.”

Read more.