In summary

A bill that would have made it more difficult and expensive to drill off the California coast died in the legislature, leaving alive President Trump’s threat to open federal waters for oil and gas prospecting.

A bill that would have made it more difficult and expensive to drill off the California coast died in the Legislature, leaving alive President Trump’s threat to open federal waters for oil and gas prospecting.

The bill, by Democratic Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara, would have prohibited the State Lands Commission from approving any new infrastructure that supports offshore oil and gas development, effectively ramping up the cost to construct additional pipelines and infrastructure.

An oil platform off the California coast. Image by Wikipedia

The bill stalled in the Assembly last week. It was a response to an executive order instructing U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review locations in the Pacific for lease sales—areas that were placed off limits at least through 2022 by President Obama.

The state has a limited arsenal to fight energy leasing in federal waters, which begin three miles offshore. The last time federal oil leases were offered off the California coast was in 1984. State officials have long sought to permanently ban offshore drilling here.

In Jackson’s district, the memory of the massive 1969 oil spill that despoiled beaches and killed wildlife is still vivid. The area was hit again in 2015, when a pipeline failure sent more than 140,000 of crude oil onto the beach at Refugio State Park.

“This not a distant or abstract issue,” Jackson said when she introduced her legislation. “This is deeply personal.”

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Julie Cart joined CalMatters as a projects and environment reporter in 2016 after a long career at the Los Angeles Times, where she held many positions: sportswriter, national correspondent and environment...