California Lawmakers Vow To Thwart New Offshore Oil Drilling

SACRAMENTO (AP) — A California lawmaker says she is introducing legislation to thwart President Donald Trump’s attempts to expand offshore drilling through an executive order he signed Friday.

Trump’s order to roll back restrictions on offshore oil drilling opens the door to new drilling off the California coast, state officials say.

State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson said she will introduce legislation next week to ban new oil and gas infrastructure like pipelines in state waters and on the coast. The Santa Barbara Democrat said her bill will prevent new drilling in federal waters by curtailing companies’ ability to transport new oil and gas through coastal waters controlled by the state.

“For the sake of our environment, our economy and quality of life, the door that Trump wants to open to offshore oil and gas drilling must be closed,” Jackson said.

The executive order Trump signed Friday is aimed at expanding oil drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans and dismantling environmental regulations enacted by his predecessor, former President Barack Obama. New drilling off the California coast is currently prohibited by policies Obama enacted. Trump’s executive order directs his new interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, to review Obama-era offshore drilling policies.

“This executive order starts the process of opening offshore areas to job-creating energy exploration,” Trump said during a White House signing ceremony. “It reverses the previous administration’s Arctic leasing ban and directs Secretary Zinke to allow responsible development of off-shore areas that will bring revenue to our treasury and jobs to our workers.”

Jackson said she will amend a currently unrelated bill, SB188, to ban the State Lands Commission from approving new pipelines, piers and other oil infrastructure in state waters. Although California officials lack authority over federal waters in the Pacific, they do control waters within three miles of the state’s coastline.

The Western States Petroleum Association did not comment on Jackson’s proposal specifically, but spokeswoman Kara Siepmann said the group’s member companies are watching the issue closely.

“Our member companies proudly operate in some of the toughest regulatory environments in the country,” Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the organization’s president, said in a statement. “We value and are committed to working with the leaders, elected and otherwise, in the communities and states in which we operate to deliver our products safely, efficiently and in ways that best protect our environment.”

California Gov. Jerry Brown joined fellow Democratic governors in the other West Coast states in railing against the president’s executive order Thursday night in response to news that the president would revise offshore drilling regulations.

California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra also spoke out against the executive order.

“We will vigorously oppose new drilling off the shores of our coast,” Becerra, a Democrat, said in a statement Friday. “Instead of taking us backwards, the federal government should work with us to advance the clean energy economy that’s creating jobs, providing energy and preserving California’s natural beauty.”

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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