California Lawmakers Ready To Fight Against Federal Offshore Drilling Plan

The Trump administration’s decision is a step back to "the outdated, dirty and destructive energy policies of the past."

Hours after President Donald Trump’s administration unveiled plans to massively expand offshore drilling, California lawmakers announced they’ll re-introduce legislation to block the federal government from doing so ― at least near their shores.

Lawmakers in both chambers of the state legislature said Thursday that they’ll bring back a bill that would prohibit the building of infrastructure, including pipelines, related to petroleum development in California waters. It would also bar the renewal, extension or modification of leases to support oil or natural gas production, processing or transportation.

The bill would protect the waters up to three miles off California’s coastline. The federal government has jurisdiction beyond that point.

The state Senate version is coauthored by Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) and Richard Lara (D-Bell Gardens), while the Assembly version is backed by Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) and Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara).

“California’s economy thrives because of our environmental protections. The Trump Administration’s reckless decision to open these waters to further oil development represents a step backward into the outdated, dirty and destructive energy policies of the past,” Jackson said in a statement. “It’s more important than ever that we send a strong statement that California will not be open for drilling along our coast, which could devastate our multi-trillion dollar coastal economy, our coastal waters and marine life.”

Jackson initially introduced the bill last year, after Trump signed an executive order instructing the Department of the Interior to review regulations on offshore energy development. The legislation died in committee in September amid opposition from the petroleum lobby as well as the California Chamber of Commerce.

“The oil industry killed that bill,” Jackson said at the time. “They are far too powerful.”

The Trump administration’s draft plan, unveiled by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Thursday, would make approximately 90 percent of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf available for lease by energy developers.

“This is a clear difference between energy weakness and energy dominance,” Zinke said. “And under President Trump, we are going to have the strongest energy policy and become the strongest energy superpower. We certainly have the assets to do that.”

The federal announcement was met with swift backlash from coastal state governors and senators, including some Republicans.

“I urge Secretary Zinke to recognize the Florida Congressional delegation’s bipartisan efforts to maintain and extend the moratorium in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, and remove this area for future planning purposes,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a statement.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), a Trump ally, said he had “already asked to immediately meet with Secretary Zinke to discuss the concerns I have with this plan and the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration.”

The move also drew condemnation from many top California officials, including Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D).

“Drilling off the shores of California’s coast is a non-starter. Our State has banned offshore drilling for a reason: because we don’t want it and because we know what happens when it goes wrong,” Becerra said in a statement. “We are evaluating all of our options to protect our State’s pristine natural resources.”