Thursday, August 16, 2018

California Looks to Block Further Offshore Drilling for Oil

Hey, I say, "Drill baby drill," lol.

But this is California, which has been taken over by far-left progressive nutjobs. It's hard out here, man.

At LAT, "First came the proclamations against Trump's offshore drilling plan. Now comes the legislation":

When the Trump administration proposed opening California waters to drilling on an unprecedented scale, state leaders said they would do whatever it takes to keep new oil operations at bay.

But promises only go so far.

So some in Sacramento now are trying to lock those pledges into law — safeguarding the coast from offshore drilling no matter the whims of future administrations.

Despite decades of lawsuits and regulations, the state’s ability to block offshore drilling hinges largely on who’s in power in the state Capitol. Even with staunch opposition by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and pledges from both candidates vying to be the next governor, future leaders could still allow new drilling if they choose.

Two bills that could live or die Thursday would close that possibility by barring state land managers from allowing the construction of new pipelines, piers, wharves or other infrastructure necessary to transport the oil and gas from water to land.

In a state where polls show 69% of residents oppose more drilling off their coast, such legislation may seem like a shoo-in. “But unfortunately it’s not,” said Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), acting chair of the Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee.

A similar Senate bill last year failed amid pressure from powerful oil and business interests that said stripping the state of this decision-making authority could do more harm than good.

Muratsuchi said he agreed to team up with state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) and seven coauthors this year to reintroduce the issue as nearly identical bills in the Assembly and the Senate, and overcome what he said were the key challenges: “Oily Democrats,” a more business-friendly Assembly than in years past, and powerful lobbying alliances in Sacramento.

The stalling of the legislation last year marked an instance in which California, famous for leading the charge on environmental laws, left other states to pave the way. New Jersey and New York picked up and adopted similar legislation this year. Delaware and Maryland are also looking to pass laws that would bar new drilling in state waters.

But with mounting public pushback against the Trump administration’s efforts to upend California’s environmental protections, backers say the bills have a new urgency this year.

“We need to take control of what we can control — and what we can control is our state land and waters,” said Richard Charter, a senior fellow at the Ocean Foundation who has worked on oil issues for 40 years. “I have never seen this level of danger to California’s coastline.”

Bills AB 1775 and SB 834 would prohibit the State Lands Commission, which has jurisdiction over tidelands and waters extending roughly three miles offshore, from granting leases for new pipelines and infrastructure — the most economical way to transport oil and gas to land. The Senate version of the bill goes a step further, banning the commission from renewing an existing lease if that action will result in increased oil or natural gas production from federal waters.

Currently, the commission’s oil decisions are subject to the vote of two elected officials, the lieutenant governor and the state controller, and one appointee of the governor, the director of the state Department of Finance.

Both Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Democratic candidate for governor, and John Cox, the Republican candidate who has Trump’s backing, have declared that the commission’s current commitment to barring new leases would not change under their leadership...